Ryanair is not the online airline having issues with unionized employees. It has been announced that personnel of LOT Polish Airlines is going on strike on Thursday, October 18th.
The strike will begin at 5 AM. Some of the union members will protest outside the LOT Polish airlines headquarters in Warsaw while others will be taking part in the walk-out. 60% of employees are rumored to join in the action. LOT is preparing emergency crews by calling crews back from holidays and negotiating with Lufthansa for help.
The reason for the strike is the unlawful dismissal of Monika Żelazik, who was the head of the trade unions. She was let go in June 2018 after organizing a strike that was supposed to take part in May – even if it didn’t happen.
LOT Polish Airlines has so far refused to comment on the situation. “We have no opportunity to comment on individual employee issues due to the protection of personal data and even good manners,” Adrian Kubicki, LOT spokesman, said to Business Insider Polska. Such regard for good manners did not prevent LOT from informing the media of the cancellation.
However, Rafał Milczarski, President of LOT, has referred to an e-mail from Żelazik sent before the planned strike as grounds for cancellation. Żelazik, then the chairman of the strike action, wrote to her co-workers: “We bought a few flares, two armored cars, an old rocket launcher, a few hand grenades and let everyone take from home what had been left after their grandfathers and a bottle of petrol.”
The national labor authorities have judged the dismissal to be illegal, as LOT Polish Airlines management did not get the consent of the unions before firing their leader. The union members have other demands, too. They want the implementation of remuneration regulations that were introduced in 2010.
LOT had also moved to sue Piotr Szumlewicz, Chairman of the Mazowieckie Voivodeship OPZZ Council, and the Interia.pl portal for a comment published on July 11: “We have a problem as a state, as a society. Namely: LOT Polish Airlines are getting closer to the catastrophe, is their condition already catastrophic now? Flights are canceled and delayed, labor law is massively violated, workers are very ill-treated, there are calls to trade unions, and the situation of passengers is deteriorating.” LOT claimed that this comment violated the rights of the company.
Statements from the airline imply that the strike is illegal (indeed, LOT has gained court protection from strikes while an investigation into their legality is in progress) and that is merely a stunt by Monika Żelazik, who is a participant in a local election. The union members claim that strikes are the only tools they have in the fight for workers’ rights.