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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Polish Mining Group. Miners versus the state giant. Courts on the remuneration of PGG employees

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Polska Grupa Górnicza (PGG) must pay compensation to miners in the amount of even more than PLN 20,000. The courts side with the employees and point to incorrect recording of working time by the state giant. PGG has been losing cases in court for at least six years, yet the company has not yet decided to change the regulations. PGG explains in a statement sent to TVN24 that the problem concerns some employees, primarily traffic supervision employees.

Jerzy Korczyński, TVN24 reporter, warns that Polska Grupa Górnicza, the largest producer of thermal coal in Europe, “has been consciously reducing the salaries of its employees for years.” This is despite the fact that the company has been losing all court battles in these matters for at least six years, he adds.

What’s the problem? A miner going on shift is paid a day’s wage from going underground to going to the surface, and not from entering and leaving the mine area. In this way – according to the estimates of a TVN24 reporter – a miner working underground for 25 years loses on average from PLN 150,000 to PLN 250,000. zloty.

Miners versus the Polish Mining Group

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The vast majority, over 90 percent. employees decide to pursue their claims in court after switching to retirement. Up to 2,000 people retire from PGG annually. people. This, in turn, means that the courts are flooded with such cases.

According to the regulations, miners can pursue claims up to three years ago. As Jerzy Korczyński points out, courts always award miners compensation for overtime. The compensation is approximately PLN 20,000. PLN, depending on earnings. PGG also covers the costs of the trial, attorneys and experts. This is another expense for the company, amounting to PLN 5,000. PLN in the case of one case – adds the TVN24 reporter.

– The interpretation of labor law provisions made by Polska Grupa Górnicza (…) is not correct. The plaintiff remained at the employer’s disposal from entering the mine to leaving the mine. Pursuant to Article 128 of the Labor Code, working time is the time during which the employee remains at the employer’s disposal in the workplace or in another place intended for work – said Judge Magdalena at the end of September in the justification for one of the judgments. German from the District Court Katowice-Zachód.

The judge pointed out that “the court, in numerous justifications for judgments in similar cases, has consistently pointed out irregularities, Polska Grupa Górnicza (…) does not make any changes to the system of recording working time and correctly calculating miners’ remuneration.”

The miners themselves do not hide their surprise. – I thought it was paid immediately, but it turned out that Polska Grupa Górnicza was making idiots of people and did not pay. They should be paid what they should be paid, but they are not paid – said miner Krzysztof Gawęda from the Halemba Coal Mine in Ruda Śląska, who is currently on mining leave, just before retirement, in an interview with TVN24.

As he explained, before going underground, a miner performs many activities to prepare for work. – You have to come and change your clothes, get your tools and sharpen your tool. It all goes on. Then you have to come and pass it, take a bath (…). The employer did not take this into account. The employer thinks that we come dressed for work and ready. The employer is unfair. It should be automatic, not that people have to go to court, wait for almost a year for a case, and they sit in offices and drink coffee – Gawęda pointed out.

PGG also loses in second-instance courts.

Data obtained by Korczyński shows that in 2022, 109 appeals against judgments in labor courts were submitted to the District Court in Katowice. All of them were rejected, which means that PGG must cover further court costs. In the period from January to September 2023, the District Court in Katowice considered 106 such appeals. All decisions were also in favor of the miners. However, this is only part of the issues. Appeals are also sent to the District Court in Gliwice.

PGG responds

We have sent questions to PGG. Jerzy Korczyński asked the mining company why, despite so many lost cases in courts, no decision has been made to change the provisions so far. The TVN24 reporter also asked why PGG allows itself to be mismanaged and pay compensation, which, together with court costs, may cost the company up to PLN 50 million a year.

In a statement sent to us, PGG explained that “internal legal regulations specifying the rules of overtime work apply in the mines and plants of PGG SA.” “These regulations specify what formal obligations individual employees should perform if they work overtime (both people managing employees and employees working overtime). The most common cause of irregularities in this respect is failure to fulfill these formal obligations (failure to submit an application for overtime payment). “- we read in the company’s response.

According to PGG, “if an employee works overtime and requests remuneration for this, he or she receives it on an ongoing basis.”

“The problem arises because some employees (mainly traffic supervisors) do not fulfill these obligations and apply for payment for overtime hours only after terminating the employment relationship,” the company added.

Polska Grupa Górnicza employs over 36,000. people. The State Treasury is the sole owner of PGG shares.

Main photo source: pgg.pl

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