The Polish NGO CentrumCSR.pl has complied an update detailing recent lay-offs and difficult working conditions at SHARP Manufacturing Poland. Since 2012, more than 1600 jobs were lost. SHARP has been terminating contracts of groups of 29 workers every month, in order to avoid procedures for collective redundancies that are to be observed when more than 30 persons are terminated. The SHARP factory in Ostazewo produces LCD TV's. The remaining workers are uncertain about the future. Salary cuts are expected.
Lay-offs and difficult working conditions in Polish Sharp factory - by CentrumCSR.pl
Since 2012 Sharp has reduced more than 1,600 workplaces in its factory. In March 2013, 200 workers lost jobs, including single mothers. Workers feel uncertain about their future. Salary cuts are expected. Sharp does not keep its investment promises from 2007.
Sharp Manufacturing Poland Ltd. is located in Ostaszewo near Toruń, Northern Poland. Between 2007 and 2012 Sharp was entitled to benefit from various incentives offered by Polish government to foreign investors in special economic zones, including exemptions from income and property tax.
In 2007 the factory started production of LCD TVs and, thus, the plant joined Sharp Factory Network (production in Mexico, China, Malaysia and Japan). „Sharp Crystal Park” also hosts suppliers like Sumika and Orion Electric Poland, closely linked to Sharp.
When opening the factory in the special economic zone, Sharp Manufacturing Poland Sp. z o.o. pledged to Polish government to employ at least 5,000 people and make investments of 150 mln EUR. At the peak moment - late 2012 - it employed 2,600 persons. As for March 2013, only 988 employees work in the factory. Sharp invested in Ostaszewo only 44 mln EUR. It seems Sharp overestimated its capacity.
Since the beginning of 2012, the employment at the factory began to decrease. Sharp was consequently terminating contracts with 29 workers every month, in order to avoid the procedure of collective redundancies (above 30 persons). Collective redundancies give the workers right to receive from one to three months severance pay. It also terminated cooperation with temporary work agencies.
In January 2013, Sharp finally admitted problems with the business and acknowledged diminishing number of orders. The lay-offs started, this time with respect for the collective redundancies procedure. Trade union “Solidarność” got involved in the process, and tried to protect and support the employees, especially single mothers or older employees. In mid-March the talks were completed and the agreement between trade union and Sharp signed. In March 2013, 211 people lost their jobs. The sacked workers find themselves in a very difficult situation as in that region of Poland (Kujawsko Pomorskie voivodship) the unemployment rate is on the rise and surpassed 19% in February 2013. Sharp signed the declaration that there will be no further lay-offs in 2013. However, trade unions inform that Sharp announced further salaries cuts. Average salary in the factory is already very low (1400 PLN net - 350 EUR, minimum wage in Poland for 2013 is 300 EUR). The employees must also cover the costs of commuting, which - according to trade unions – amounts between 150 and 300 PLN per month. Beyond the mandatory benefit, the laid-off staff received vouchers worth 450 EUR for Sharp products as the single one additional benefit beyond legal minimum. The initial offer by Sharp was 225 EUR but it was later raised to 450 EUR under the pressure from the trade union.
As for March 2013 the staff is only 988 people, all employed on the basis of a fixed contract with full social benefits.
The "Solidarność" trade union in the factory is not particularly strong, it has 120 members, and had 160 at the peak moment, when the employment in the factory was higher. According to the trade unionists, people fear to join the union as they are afraid of negative reactions from the management. Trade unions report unpleasant working atmosphere, people feel uncertain about their future, many must seek psychological support.
Sharp's difficulties have also impacted their suppliers. Almost all of the workers of Sumika's factory were dismissed – 156 people of 185, and only a few from 177 staff members remained employed at Orion Electric Poland, due to the plant being on stand-by with uncertain future.
Poland is considered as an important production location of TV sets in, hosting factories of LG, Toshiba, Funai, Sharp and others. Sector's revenues amounted to ca. 6 bn EUR in 2010 (LG Electronics Mława – 1, 325 bn EUR; LG Electronics Wrocław - 1,22 bn EUR; TPV Displays Gorzów Wielkopolski 1,185 bn EUR, Sharp Manufacturing Poland – 1 bn EUR; Toshiba Television Central Europe 585 mln EUR).
For more information contact Ms. Katarzyna Szyniszewska: [email protected]
The Foundation CentrumCSR.PL is an independent Polish civil society group, a member of GoodElectronics Network. Currently CentrumCSR.PL is a partner in a EU funded project that aims to establish a consortium of public bodies for the sustainable public procurement of ICT in Europe, under the name of Electronics Watch.
 Special Economic Zones Act - "Ustawa o specjalnych strefach ekonomicznych z dnia 20 października 1994 r. (Dz. U. z 2007 r. Nr 42, poz. 274 i z 2008 r. Nr 118, poz. 746)".
 Sumika Electronic Materials Poland belong to Japanse chemical group Sumitomo Chemical
 Existence of special economic zones in Poland is an exception from the EU regulations, negotiated by Polish government during accession in 2004. Polish government offers various incentives to foreign and Polish investors in the zones, such as tax deductions or terrains with full infrastructure in favorable conditions.
 a representative of the Pomeranian Special Economic Zone was interviewed to gather information for this article
 A leader of the trade union in Sharp was interviewed to gather information for this article
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