Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Good News

“Poles can pay less” is the cheering headline in April 4th’s Gazeta Wyborcza. This storyette, tucked away in the boring old business section, is about how a Polish building company operating in Germany has won the right to pay its workers less than the existing, collectively bargained industry rate in Germany. The European Court decided that if collective agreements were actually binding this would conflict with the freedom to provide services in the EU. The company pays its workers 47% of the agreed rate. It would be difficult indeed to find a clearer argument against the Lisbon constitution than this; hard to find more powerful ammunition for those kill-joys who say the purpose of opening up the EU to much more poorly paid workers was to reverse the gains made by workers in the west — so naturally the story is on page 28, while all the front page attention in Poland has been on inter-party haggling, gay marriages, phantom German repatriation claims and so forth.

Bad and all as it is for unionized workers in Western Europe, things will be much worse for Polish academics – or will be if professor Żylicz, chairman of the Polish Science Foundation, gets his way. He is quoted in Polityka (April 5th), saying that in order to attract heavy weight grants to universities, academic jobs will have to be filled by competition. Fair enough so far but the jobs will have to be “contractual in nature, and limited in time.” So no more permanent jobs for lecturers. One objection seems obvious: what price academic freedom if in three years time your GlaxoSmithklineWelcomePriceWaterhouseCoopersMicroBasf grant runs out and you have to go begging for another “grant.” But what amazes is the casual consignment of a whole group of workers to permanent stress and insecurity. You can bet Żylicz would not so calmly, barefacedly suggest that miners or nurses have their careers destroyed and family lives ruined.

Quoted in the same article is professor Andrzej Jaszczyk of the Mining Academy, who repeats the very modish idea that academics should take part in exchanges with other universities. Again, fair enough but he also says academics should be forbidden from working in the same university they did their PhDs in: “Academics should be on the move.” Goodbye job security, goodbye sweet old hometown…

Comments are closed.