Polish Embassy denies undermining unions

The commercial counsellor for the Polish Embassy in Denmark said that the controversial manual was designed to help Polish companies comply with Danish and EU laws

The Polish Embassy has rejected the notion that it has advised Polish companies to avoid co-operating with Danish unions and paying Danish wages.

In an email to The Copenhagen Post, Jacek Wojcikowski, the commercial counsellor for the Polish Embassy in Denmark, said that the embassy’s 103-page manual, titled ‘Manual for Polish Companies’, in fact urged quite the opposite.

“The manual does not discourage companies from co-operating and contacting trade unions. Just the opposite, we advise them not to avoid such contacts and to be prepared for negotiations,” Wojcikowski wrote. “We actually say that ‘the worst solution is to avoid contact with trade unions’. We inform companies about the powers that trade unions have and the powers they do not have.”

READ MORE: Polish Embassy in hot water over anti-union manual

Jacek Wojcikowski, the commercial counsellor for the Polish Embassy in Denmark, said that the manuel does not discourage companies from cooperating and contacting trade unions (Photo: Polish Embassy)Only trying to help
The reaction from the embassy comes after the trade union 3F reported that the embassy manual, amongst other things, urged Polish companies not to inform trade unions about employee salaries and claimed that Danish unions could act illegally.

“For example, there have been cases in which Danish trade unions made Polish companies pay additional contributions to the pension system in Denmark, which was against the law. This interpretation was confirmed in a written statement by Pensionstyrelsen [the national pension authorities],” Wojcikowski wrote.

While vehemently denying that they had undermined the unions, the embassy did concede that they could have taken some precautions in regards to the manual.

“Although we have put a lot of effort into preparing the text of the manual so that it presents the rules of the Danish labour market in a clear and impartial way, we have not managed to avoid controversy. We think that there is always a possibility to revise certain phrases so that they would not allow room for interpretation that differ from our intentions,” Wojcikowski said.

Union points to dodgy consultant
One of the major gripes that 3F had with the manual was that it was compiled with the assistance of a consultant, Monika G Lewinski, who has been accused of cheating Polish workers out of their wages in a number of cases.

According to the two workers' rights councils, Arbejdsretten and Lønmodtagernes Garantifond, there are four separate cases involving four different companies owned by Lewinski that have allegedly cheated employees out of over three million kroner.

According to 3F's magazine, Fagbladet 3F, Lewinski maintained that she is the “smallest fish” in the matter and that other people got the money and not her.

Wojcikowski informed The Copenhagen Post that Lewinski’s attorney is preparing a statement in regards to the manual and is that she is currently suing 3F in court.

The employment minister, Mette Frederiksen (Socialdemokraterne), said that ministry officials have contacted the Polish Embassy in order to clear up the matter.