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Peasant workers are still the people of the future

They suddenly became one of the driving forces of the Polish economy, even more so than the mythical “white-collar workers.” The paradox of transformation lies precisely in the fact that what was supposed to hinder progress became its strength.

It wasn’t Leszek Balcerowicz who led Poland to capitalism after 1989, it was the farmers and factory workers who did it. People disregarded in the communist Poland (PRL) and forgotten in contemporary Poland (Third Polish Republic). But they still exist and they are doing incredibly well in the economy, now capitalist. They are the dream workers of Polish economic liberals, the “flexible employees” who can adapt perfectly to the changing market conditions. It is they, not businessmen, who have traded the “white socks” of the Balcerowicz era for the “white collars” of the all-powerful corporations.

At a quarter to four, there’s a PKS…

In Stanisław Bareja’s film Co mi zrobisz jak mnie złapiesz [What Will You Do When You Catch Me?], the peasant worker played by Józef Nalberczak talked about his day: “Well, I myself have a very good connection. I wake up at a quarter to three. In the summer, it’s already light out. At a quarter to three I’m shaved because I shave in the evening. I have had breakfast for supper. I just get up and leave.” “But you do get dressed,” added his conversation companion. “In a coat, when it’s raining,” continued Nalberczak as the peasant worker. “Is it worth it for me to undress after breakfast? I have five kilometres to the PKS. At a quarter past four, there’s a PKS (bus of the Polish state-owned public transport service company -ed.).” “And do you make it?” the listener inquired. “No, but I’m still fine because it’s overcrowded and doesn’t stop. I go to the dairy on my way to the bus stop. That takes an hour. Then I quickly get on the EKD (Warsaw Commuter Railway -ed.) to Szymanów. You know, milk has the fastest transportation, otherwise it curdles. I get off in Szymanów, carry the bottles and catch the electric train to Ochota, and then it’s smooth sailing from there because it goes like this: line 119, transfer to 13, transfer to 345, and I’m home, I mean – at work. And it’s just quarter to seven! I still have a quarter of an hour. So I have lunch at the cafeteria, so I don’t have to stay after the end of my shift just to eat, and I go straight home. And by 22.50, I’m back. I shave. I have breakfast and go to sleep.”

Read the full story.

By Grzegorz Sieczkowski
Translated by: jz

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