Protest in Banská Bystrica: Another red card for OTTO Workforce agency
On Wednesday, 20th April, Priama akcia organized a protest against the practices of OTTO Workforce. The office in Banská Bystrica was visited by almost a dozen activists. We wanted to express solidarity with the workers who have been cheated by the agency. With this action, Priama akcia also joined the IWA Days of Struggle against Borders and in Solidarity with Immigrant Workers.
We informed the journalists from TA3 and Radio Regina (you can read the article Watch Out for Temporary Work Agencies in Slovak here) present at the protest about the reasons of our action, and then we proceeded to the agency office where we hung a banner.
The office manager reacted to our action in a very bizarre way. She refused to accept the red card with the campaign demands in Slovak and English language so we left it on the table and stressed that we would inform the owner of the agency, Frank van Gool, about the protest. She also forbade the camerawoman from TA3 to film during the action, told the reporter that he could only get a statement from the Dutch management of the company, and lied that this is only possible in Dutch language. When one of us took a picture of the activists in the room (not her or the employees), she told him to delete the photo, which he refused. Then she pulled out her cellphone and pretended to call the police. The funniest part of her telephone conversation was when she said: “Police? Agency OTTO, Horná 21, I would like to report an unauthorized meeting, we are under attack from direct action.” (Just to clarify things to Ms. Manager: first, there is no such thing as “unauthorized meeting” in any law; second, if standing in the office and handing over a protest letter seems like “attacking” to you, you must have a very strong imagination.) By then we were leaving anyway. The red card was left in the office and we emphasized that this was not the last time we saw each other.
The actions will continue and we would like to ask all the readers of this article to support the campaign as much as they can. Concrete ways are listed in the article Kampaň proti praktikám Otto Workforce pokračuje aj po dosiahnutí prvých výsledkov (in Slovak).
We also call on OTTO workers to contact us in case the agency has cheated them, taken their money or if they are unsatisfied with their working or living conditions. So far a couple of workers from Czech Republic and Slovakia have contacted us and we would welcome if others resolve to fight for their demands and join them.
We would like to thank the local activists for support and participation.