Wednesday, April 26, 2017
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Brief History of Solidarity Workers' Union

Solidarnosc LogoThis year on August 31 we will celebrate the 25 anniversary of Solidarity Workers’ Union (Zwiazek Zawodowy Solidarnosc) -the first independent workers’ union operated legally in the communistic block. Creation of the Solidarity helped to abolished the Soviet system.

The origin of Solidarity traces back to a creation of Workers' Defense Committee (KOR, Komitet Obrony Robotnikow) in 1976. KOR was created by a group of intellectuals to help the workers who were detained after the strikes in the same year (1976).

July 1980 -Strikes in several factories (150 factories and 50 thousands workers) in the protest against a price increase of meat (Swidnik, Lublin)

August 14 -Beginning of the strike in Gdansk's Shipyard after Lech Walesa and Anna Walentynowicz are fired from work for their political activities. The strike committee is formed demanding that both of them would be permitted to return to work. The committee had some economical and political requests – among them to build a monument to commemorate the victims of the strike in Gdansk in December 1970 (this strike led to overturn of the communistic government of Gomulka and establishment of a new government ruled by Edward Gierek – read more about in the article Edward Gierek, Polish Leader from Decade 1970-1980).

August1 16 - Director of the shipyard agrees to increase the salaries but does not agree to any of the political requests. The strike is announced as finished but the representations from over 20 other companies (with Lis and Gwiazda) arrives asking for a continuation of the strike under the leadership of Lech Walesa.

August 17 - Priest Jankowski holds a mass in the front of the shipyard. After the mass a wooden cross is mounted in the same place where the workers died during the strike in 1970. The list of 21 final postulates is prepared, many of the postulates based on were based largely on KOR's Charter of Workers' Rights.

August 21 - The Polish government sents its representatives to negotiate an agreement with workers in shipyards in Gdansk (Danzig) and Szczecin (Stettin). The strikes are erupting all around Poland. Until the end of August the strikes spread out over Silesian coal mines, the miners’ strike committee is created in Jastrzebie.

August 30 -agreement between the Stettin Workers Committee Marian Jurczyk and the government represented by Kazimierz Barcikowski was signed. The final signing of the agreement in Danzig in delayed compared to Stettin because the committee demands the release of all political prisoners

August 31 - At 5 pm, Mieczyslaw Jagielski, the negotiator of the government site announces that all political prisoners will be releases during 24 hours. The final agreement is signed between the government and the striking committee, representing over 500 companies with Lech Walesa. See the photograph when Lech Walesa signs by use of his famous big pen. This day is considered the Day of Solidarity. The most important postulate was the permission to create independent workers’ unions Solidarity (Solidarnosc)

September 3 -The agreement was reached between the miners united in Jastrzebie striking committee and the government, in the result of this agreement six independent workers unions are created.


Recommended reading(s):

The Polish Revolution The Polish Revolution: Solidarity (Third Edition) by Timothy Garton Ash, Timothy Garton Ash

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