Polish docker reinstated following lengthy battle with Hutchison

29 Jan 2021

This month Polish docker and trade union activist Marek Szymczak has been reinstated following a lengthy battle with global terminal operator Hutchison.

Hutchison fired Marek in what appeared to be a union-busting campaign at Gdynia port while he was on sick leave recovering from a workplace injury. Hutchison’s Gdynia management hired private investigators to follow Marek, observe his home and his closest family.

Throughout, the ITF and ETF Dockers Sections’ have been supporting Marek and his union, Poland’s National Section of Port Workers’ NSZZ “Solidarność” and National Maritime Section NSZZ “Solidarność”, to fight for justice and reinstatement.

ITF President and Dockers Section Chair Paddy Crumlin has welcomed the Polish court’s decision to declare Hutchison’s 2017 dismissal of Marek illegal.

This is a hugely significant victory for Marek and dockers at Hutchison’s Gydnia terminal. This result has only come about because dockers internationally stood together for almost four years with our brother Marek and his union. It demonstrates the collective strength and sheer determination of ITF and ETF Dockers affiliates – they should be proud of their contributions,” he said.

Support for Marek came from dockers unions as far away as North America, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Australia as well as across Europe.

The message is clear and it is global”, said Paddy “We will fight injustice wherever and whenever it arises. As an international Dockers movement we will use whatever means necessary to push back on anti-union, anti-worker behaviour: industrial, political or legal.”

Niek Stam, from the ETF Dockers Section, also welcomed the result:

The ETF and ITF Dockers are proud to celebrate and share this success with Solidarność and all the affiliates and the dockers worldwide. Their strong support contributed to this big win and proved, once again, that international solidarity and true commitment lead to great results.”

“Solidarność” union organiser Adam Tylski has been fighting alongside Marek throughout his ordeal with the terminal giant. He said, “Polish Dockers can always count on help and support from seafarers from the National Maritime Section of NSZZ “Solidarność” and it was also this time. Furthermore, thanks to the support and joint action of the ITF, ETF and many affiliates, Marek knew and felt that he was not alone fighting for an important cause for workers and that he could not stop.”

Working together, determination, courage and not giving up, even in difficult moments, brings results. It may seem in the moment that unions are in a losing position up against powerful corporations like Hutchison, but that’s not the truth. Sooner or later; solidarity, honesty and unity achieve the win,” said Adam.

Hutchison announced to file a cassation appeal with the Supreme  Court, but the unions are confident justice will continue to prevail.