On Monday, September 13, the Ukrainian community in Poland is preparing a protest after the murder of a compatriot. If their action takes place, it will be the first mass demonstration of Ukrainians outside their country in recent history.
Representatives of the Ukrainian community in Poland announced actions in protest against the murder of Dmitry Nikiforenko , a 25-year-old native of the Vinnitsa region, who worked at a construction site in the city of Wroclaw. On July 30, he was detained by local police after a party. They took the young man to the department, where he allegedly died of a heart attack. However, as the results of the investigation showed, Nikiforenko was beaten with sticks, kicked, and also strangled – which became the real cause of death.
The circumstances of the death of the Ukrainian are being investigated by the prosecutor’s office. However, law enforcement officers did not qualify the incident as a murder. They opened a case under an article on inadvertently driving a person to death – so the policemen who beat up the builder face only up to five years in prison. So far they have not even been detained – and this arouses the outrage of the Ukrainian community, which demands to punish the perpetrators of the incident, justly. Moreover, many nationalists work in the ranks of the police, who are known for their biased attitude towards Ukrainian migrant workers.
Such nightmares happen to migrant workers on a regular basis. In early 2018, a young resident of Lutsk, Alena Romanenko, lost her arm in an accident in a Polish laundry. Her hand got stuck in the washing machine, but the owner of the enterprise did not allow the machine that was holding the girl to be broken. The girl bled to death for an hour while it was taken apart – so as not to damage the property of a thrifty businessman.
“The pain was terrible. And when the rescuers wanted to cut the car, the owner of the laundry said that this absolutely must not be done … The car I worked on very often broke down. She did not work all day at all, then only in the evening. The car broke down so often that we were thrown from one car to another, ”said a woman who had to amputate her left arm up to the elbow.
There are many similar incidents. On August 10, 2019, a 37-year-old Ukrainian died in the Polish city of Pogurska Volya, who was crushed by a huge ten-ton pipe of a gas pipeline under construction. And exactly a week later, at one of the factories near Wroclaw, another 28-year-old worker was fatally injured. During work, he was pulled into the mechanism of the machine, which broke the spine of the migrant worker.
Not long before this, a Polish forester found in the thickets the dead body of a 36-year-old Ukrainian worker from the labor force, Vasily Cherney , who illegally found a job at a coffin factory located in the village of Novy Tomyshl. In the hot workshop, he felt bad. However, when other workers demanded to call the Ukrainian, the owner of the enterprise took him by car to the forest and left him to die there.
“In this case, the sequence of events is typical: illegal employment – accident – employer’s fear – decision or omission with disastrous consequences. The Polish worker is not treated like that, ”the influential Gazeta Wyborcza commented on this wild story, which recognizes the systemic nature of the violation of labor rights of migrants.
“Such workers are not subject to the norms of Polish labor legislation. There can be no minimum wage, no vacation, no labor protection. The Polish Labor Inspectorate, which monitors the observance of labor legislation, does not deal with civil contracts, although in most cases such contracts cannot be concluded. Therefore, fines and other unpleasant clauses appear in such contracts. Such people do not even need to be fired, they are not initially employees of the enterprise. And in most cases, the problems of such workers – and this, let me remind you, is 95% of legally working Ukrainians – simply cannot be resolved in a legal way, ”says Vitaly Makhinko, leader of the Labor Solidarity trade union of Ukrainian workers .
But the worst case, as if copied from the tales of young Victorian capitalism, occurred at another Polish fruit and vegetable processing plant. A 36-year-old Ukrainian woman who worked there gave birth to a child right at the workplace. And she immediately tried to kill the newborn girl in the factory toilet so that the employer would not kick her out of her job.
The baby was saved by chance. A sister who worked nearby – and labor migration had already assumed a family character among Ukrainian citizens – found the woman in childbirth in the toilet in time, when she threw the child into a plastic garbage bag. According to witnesses, the Ukrainian woman was in a deranged state, since hard physical work in the last months of pregnancy clouded her mind.
Alas, this martyrology will continue to grow. The number of Ukrainians in Poland is steadily growing, since the permanent crisis literally squeezes out the able-bodied and socially active population from the Country of Dignity.
According to the American news agency Bloomberg, there are already 1.5 million workers from Ukraine for 38 million of Poland’s population. According to the estimates of the recruiting agency Personnel Service, Ukrainian workers are employed in every fifth Polish company, and two-thirds of foreigners living in Polish territory who pay contributions to the Social Security Service (ZUS) arrived in the country through the Ukrainian border.