POLAND: Partia Razem was formed earlier this year by activists from varying backgrounds, including the Young Socialists, Green Party, trade unions, cooperatives as well as prominent academics and journalists with the aim of standing for the parliamentary elections this year. In order for a new party to stand for parliament they need to collect 5000 signatures of support in at least 21 regions (amounting to at least 105,000 signatures). Much of the time this barrier would be very difficult to get through but in this case Razem have gained impressive momentum and collected over 100,000 signatures and passed the mark in 8 out of 21 regions showing an underlying mood for left politics amongst the Polish population. However there still is a long way to go in getting another 13 regions to pass the mark.
Razem campaign for a variety of progressive policies such as a minimum wage of PLN 15 for permanent contracted workers and PLN 20 for casual (or junk) contracts, introduction of a 35 hour working week, increasing the power of trade unions and the National Labour inspectorate, outlawing anti worker legislation such as the 12 hour-month settlement period, prohibition of unpaid internships, opening the books for salaries to fight against age and gender discrimination. The program also promises to end state subsidies for private property developers, prohibit evictions and regulate the privatisation of housing.
When it comes to health, Razem promise to provide a completely state funded National Health Service and halt all commercialisation of healthcare. They are also opposed to the criminalisation of abortion and promise subsidies on in vitro procedures and contraceptives stating that regardless of ethical views it should not be the role of the state to enforce this. They promise to provide a real welfare state which increases family benefits and provides free kindergarten and crèche facilities and provides a living wage for pensioners amongst other things.
With education, they promise a fixed percentage of GDP guaranteeing it priority in the budgets. Free textbooks for all children will be provided. Teachers will be ensured a decent wage and contract. Privatisation of schools will also be halted and more support will be provided for university students from poorer backgrounds raising the income threshold for need based scholarships to 100%. Razem also commits to bridging the link between rural and urban Poland in terms of providing more services in rural areas and invest in public transport.
Razem promise to democratise countries political system introducing a single transferable vote system, tougher regulations on political party financing with mandatory publication of financing, lowering the maximum politicians wage to that of 3 times the minimum wage and introducing a legislation that allows for a referendum on an issue after 500,000 signatures
The programme is full of progressive reforms which Marxists can fully support. However it must be stated that under the current capitalist system these reforms would be very difficult to achieve as shown by the recent tragic experience of Syriza in Greece. If achieved they could only ever be temporary which is why Razem, in order to fulfil its promises needs to adopt a programme where all the means of production are democratically and publically controlled by the industry’s workers and the local communities. Even a genuine workers’ democracy in Poland would be short lived unless it reached out to the working classes of the rest of Europe and internationally to do the same and we encourage our comrades in Razem, here and in Poland to argue for this within the party.
Thirteen regions of Poland still need the 5,000 signatures. Razem are campaigjning in 14 regions. Łódź, Gdańsk, Lublin and Zielona Góra are just about to finish. Olsztyn, Gdynia, Kielce, Białystok, Tarnów, Gliwice, Bielsko Biała, Bydgoszcz, Sieradz and Piła are still working on it.. Momentum is on our side, with this 7,500 singatures being collected this Sunday. The pass mark is within reaching distance but a lot of work is still needed to be done.
The election of even some Razem reprensentatitves would be a great step forward for working classes in Poland. It could even have a very positive impact on Polish workers through Britain who make up the second largest migrant community in Britain. Already branches in London and in Scotland have been set up. This could have a very positive step forward for the movement here which is why it is imperative that the trade unions and the other left movements in the UK reach out to this.
This campaign needs maximum possible publicity. Polish expats can also sign and many have at this website (http://partiarazem.pl/zbiorka-podpisow/). This must be done by printing off the appropriate region’s sheet, signing it and sending the hard copy. If you have any issues on this please contact the MSF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Readers who are Polish citizens who want to support this and/or know those who do and live in the above mentioned regions please sign or contact us very soon. Readers who are members of trade union branches or student unions please move resolutions of support and publicise widely. Members of the workers or left parties or organisations please also do the same. In Scotland the new left formation RISE has agreed to have RAZEM Scotland branch affiliated to it which will be a good platform and opportunity to reach out to Polish workers in Scotland. Similar things can be done throughout the rest of the UK. Many workers and youth have been drawn towards the campaign for Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader and many within this campaign, whether via their CLPs or by raising it at large public meetings could reach out to RAZEM strengthening both movements.
Once the 21 regions have been achieved it will be time for a wee celebration but it will not be the end of this but just one step forward. This is why we encourage join us and fight for this better world where those who create the wealth, own and control it. A world that the toiling masses in Poland, England, Scotland and the world over need and deserve
Razem damy radę!
Ross Walker, SSP Edinburgh North and UCU, Personal Capacity