‘Workers fight back algorithms!‘, a project conducted by Senior Landecker Fellow Marta Rozmysłowicz, culminated in a seminar on work intensification and workers’ health and safety. The event was held on September 1st, 2023 at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland.
The seminar was attended by 45 workers and organizers with the unions OZZ Inicjatywa Pracownicza (The Workers’ Initiative) and Sierpień ’80 (August ’80). Among the attendees were shopfloor organizers responsible for workplace health and safety (Społeczni Inspektorzy Pracy) from logistics and production workplaces in Poland, like Amazon warehouses, Avon warehouses, Jeremias warehouses, the Cooper Standard automotive parts factory, the Danfoss valve systems factory, and the Valeo thermal management systems factory among others.
“Workers’ productivity is constantly growing…”
The seminar, entitled “We are not robots! Exhaustion and health and safety at the workplace (Nie jesteśmy robotami! Przeciążenie pracą i BHP w zakładach pracy)” and conducted in Polish language, kicked off with a short introduction by Marta. Marta stressed that as workers’ productivity is constantly growing, which is additionally facilitated by new technologies like algorithms, employers are in effect extracting increasingly more labor to the detriment of workers’ health and safety. Workers should also benefit from greater productivity and technological advancement through reduced working time and increased wages.
In what followed, health and safety experts, including a representative from the State Work Inspectorate (Państwowa Inspekcja Pracy) and union organizers discussed the legal tools available to workers to reduce exhaustion and overwork and make workplaces safer. Krystian Drążkiewicz, a union representative from Avon company warehouses presented the results of worker-led research on exhaustion conducted at his workplace, which was the basis for a successful union campaign to reduce working time by ending the practice of 12-hour work shifts.
The seminar concluded with a call for increasing workers’ voice on the job, in the belief that democracy in the 21st century must also include more democratic workplaces.
Marta is one of thirty 2022-2023 Landecker Democracy Fellows. This fellowship, a collaboration between the Alfred Landecker Foundation and Humanity in Action, was created to strengthen a new generation of leaders whose approaches to political and social challenges can become catalysts for democratic placemaking and community building. Read more about the fellowship here.