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The Warsaw Voice » Polish Voice » August 2, 2010
The Polish Voice: Special Issue
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History of Solidarity Movement
August 2, 2010   
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1975
The economic policy of Edward Gierek, the first secretary of the communist Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR) who came to power in December 1970, begins to falter, leading to an escalating economic crisis and a sharp increase in foreign debt.

1976
June
Strikes begin at factories in Radom and Ursus and the authorities take repressive measures against the protesters.
The Workers’ Defense Committee (KOR), an important organization within Poland’s anti-communist opposition, is set up.

1978
April 29
The Free Trade Unions of the Coast, an underground trade union organization, is established in Gdańsk and becomes the precursor of the Solidarity trade union.

Oct. 16
Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, the archbishop of Cracow, is elected pope and adopts the name John Paul II.

1979
June 2
Pope John Paul II makes his first pastoral trip to Poland, drawing millions of people to Masses that he celebrates in the largest cities across the country. In his homilies, the pope speaks about the significance of freedom in public life and calls for respect for fundamental rights which every human being is entitled to.

1980
July 1
The communist authorities decide to raise the official prices of meat.

July 9
Strikes break out in Lublin and continue until July 25 in response to the price increases.

Aug. 14
Workers at the Gdańsk Shipyard go on a strike organized by the Free Trade Unions of the Coast. For the first time, the workers make political demands.

Aug. 14
Lech Wałęsa, a worker who has lost his job at the Gdańsk Shipyard, joins the strikers. The strike committee demands that Wałęsa and Anna Walentynowicz get back their jobs at the shipyard. Other demands include social benefits, respect for employee rights and the erection of a monument in honor of the victims of a massacre from December 1970, when the military opened fire on workers and protesters, killing several dozen people.

Aug. 16
Delegations from other protesting enterprises come to the shipyard and the Inter-Factory Strike Committee (MKS) is established with Wałęsa at the helm.

Aug. 17
A Mass takes place in front of the Gdańsk Shipyard gate, said by Fr. Henryk Jankowski, the prelate of St. Bridget’s parish in Gdańsk. Jankowski would later be known as the “chaplain of Solidarity.”

Aug. 17
The Strike Committee at the Gdańsk Shipyard puts up its 21 demands on the shipyard gate.

Aug. 18
Experts from Catholic organizations and the Workers’ Defense Committee come to the shipyard to provide the workers with advice during negotiations with the authorities. The Inter-Factory Strike Committee’s team of experts is chaired by Tadeusz Mazowiecki, who goes on to become the first noncommunist prime minister of Poland in 1989-1990.

Aug. 21
Most enterprises in Gdańsk, Szczecin and other coastal cities go on strike and a number of coal mines in the Upper Silesia region follow suit. The Inter-Factory Strike Committee negotiates with the communist authorities on behalf of more than 600 enterprises from all over Poland.

Aug. 21
Government officials come to Gdańsk (deputy prime minister Mieczysław Jagielski) and Szczecin (deputy prime minister Kazimierz Barcikowski).

Aug. 23
The first issue of the Solidarity Strike News Bulletin is published by the Free Printing House of the Gdańsk Shipyard.

Aug. 23
Jerzy Janiszewski, a student of the State School of Fine Arts, designs the famous Solidarity logo featuring the “Solidaric” font.

Aug. 30/Aug. 31/Sept. 3/Sept. 11
The four August Agreements are signed in Szczecin, Gdańsk (see photo), Jastrzębie and D±browa Górnicza.

Sept. 17
Workers’ delegations from across Poland come to Gdańsk to establish the nationwide “Solidarity” Independent Self-Governing Trade Union (NSZZ).

Dec. 16
A monument honoring shipyard workers killed in December 1970 is unveiled.

1981
Jan. 15
A Solidarity delegation with Lech Wałęsa meets with John Paul II in Rome.

Feb. 28
The authorities introduce meat ration coupons, thus meeting one of the 21 demands of the Strike Committee.

March 19
During a Provincial National Council session in Bydgoszcz, three prominent Solidarity unionists are severely beaten by officers from the Motorized Reserves of the Citizens’ Militia (ZOMO), a paramilitary police unit that the communist authorities used to suppress demonstrations.

March 27
In defense of the beaten unionists, a general warning strike is called and almost all enterprises in Poland stop work for four hours. The strike is called off after the authorities pledge to track down individuals guilty of the beatings.

April 30
The authorities introduce ration coupons entitling citizens to buy meat preserves, butter, flour, rice and groats.

Sept. 1
Soap, washing powder and toilet paper are added to the ration coupon system.

Sept. 5-10/Sept. 26-Oct.7
The First Solidarity Congress takes place in Gdańsk-Oliwa and Lech Wałęsa is chosen Solidarity chairman. Sept. 8, the Congress adopts “A Message to the Working People of Eastern Europe” calling on trade unionists across the Soviet bloc to stand united in the fight for freedom of association.

Dec. 3
The executive committee of the National Solidarity Committee and the chairmen of regional Solidarity chapters convene in Radom, announcing that a 24-hour strike will be called if the parliament approves special powers for the government that can be used against strikers. If these powers are enacted, a general strike will take place, Solidarity says.

Dec. 13
The communist authorities declare martial law. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the first secretary of the United Workers’ Party (PZPR), gives a televised speech announcing the establishment of the Military Council of National Salvation (WRON). Solidarity is outlawed and Solidarity leaders and other anticommunist opposition activists are interned in penal institutions guarded by the Security Service.

Dec. 16
The military uses firearms to quell protests at the Wujek coal mine, killing nine miners and leaving 21 injured.

Dec. 17
The military shoots at people again during Solidarity protests in Gdańsk. One person is killed and two are wounded.

Dec. 28

All strikes in Poland are crushed.

1982
More goods are added to the ration coupon system, including chocolate, alcohol and gas.

April 22
Solidarity leaders in hiding, including Zbigniew Bujak, Bogdan Lis and Władysław Frasyniuk, establish a Provisional Coordination Committee to support the underground work of Solidarity.

May 1
Demonstrations are held in defiance of official Labor Day celebrations organized by the communist party.

May 3
The Motorized Reserves of the Citizens’ Militia (ZOMO) brutally dispel demonstrators who are marking the anniversary of the Constitution of May 3, an observance banned by the communist authorities.

June
Kornel Morawiecki, a radical anticommunist activist, forms an underground organization in Wrocław called Fighting Solidarity.

Oct. 11-13
More strikes break out in Gdańsk.

Nov. 14
Lech Wałęsa is released from internment.

Dec. 9
After the Security Service starts a hunt for the Solidarity underground, over 10,000 activists are targeted by state repression.

Dec. 27
The communist authorities transfer all Solidarity property to the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ), which has ties to the PZPR.

Dec. 31
Martial law is suspended.

1983
July 22
Martial law ends.

Dec. 10
Danuta Wałęsa, the wife of Lech Wałęsa, picks up the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on her husband’s behalf after Poland’s communist authorities refuse to issue Wałęsa a passport. Earlier, the authorities tried to prevent Wałęsa from collecting the prize by fabricating documents to incriminate him.

1984
July 22
A large group of Solidarity activists are released from prison.

Oct. 19
A group of Interior Ministry agents abduct and murder Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko, a priest from the Warsaw district of Żoliborz, famous for his fiery sermons in which he called for a battle for freedom. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI beatified Popiełuszko as a martyr for the faith.

1985
Feb. 13
The Security Service arrests many underground Solidarity activists.

May 23
Solidarity activists in Gdańsk go on trial unable to contact lawyers. All are sentenced to several years in prison.

1986
July-September
An amnesty for political prisoners results in the release of 225 opposition activists.

Sept. 30
Lech Wałęsa sets up the Provisional Council of the Solidarity Independent Self-Governing Trade Union (NSZZ), the first open Solidarity unit since the start of martial law. Local Solidarity organizations come out in the open in many provinces and enterprises.

1988
April. 21
Workers at the Stalowa Wola Steelworks go on strike.

May 2
A strike breaks out at the Gdańsk Shipyard and continues for several days.

Aug. 15
Protests escalate again, and a strike begins at the Manifest Lipcowy coal mine in Jastrzębie-Zdrój.

Aug. 22
The strikes spread to a number of mines, and workers at the Gdańsk Shipyard go on strike again, joined by the other shipyards in Gdańsk: Północna, Remontowa, Wisła and Radunia.

Aug. 26
Interior Minister Czesław Kiszczak appears on television proposing negotiations.

Aug. 31

Kiszczak meets with Wałęsa and the two agree on an end to the strikes.

Nov. 30
A public television channel airs a live debate between Wałęsa and Alfred Miodowicz, chairman of the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ). Wałęsa defeats Miodowicz.

Dec. 18
A special Citizens’ Committee is established to provide advice to the Solidarity chairman. The committee, which has 100 members, is divided into a number of sections tasked with preparing the opposition’s stance on issues to be negotiated with the authorities.

1989
Jan. 27
Wałęsa meets with Kiszczak to agree on the composition of a negotiating team that would take part in the upcoming Round Table talks. A total of 56 negotiators are selected, including 20 from Solidarity, six from the OPZZ, and 14 from the PZPR, in addition to 14 “independent experts” and two priests.

Feb. 6
The Round Table talks begin and last until April 5, when an agreement is signed heralding radical changes in the functioning of the state. Under the agreement, Solidarity is made legal again and partially free elections are scheduled for June 4, with Solidarity allowed to put forward its own candidates for 35 percent of the seats in the lower house of parliament. The elections to the newly established upper house, the Senate, are totally free. The Solidarity Citizens’ Committee is formed.

May 8
The first issue of the Gazeta Wyborcza daily newspaper is published. The paper is originally meant to represent Solidarity during the election campaign.

June 4
After the first round of voting, Solidarity wins almost all seats available to it in the semifree election, including 160 of 161 available seats in the lower house and 92 seats in the Senate.

June 18
In the second voting round, Solidarity wins all 161 available seats in the lower house and 99 of 100 seats in the Senate.

June 23
The Citizens’ Parliamentary Party (OKP) is formed with Bronisław Geremek as chairman. OKP deputies form a coalition with the United People’s Party (ZSL) and Democratic Party (SD), satellite parties of the PZPR communist party. The PZPR is in the minority.

Aug. 24
The lower house appoints Tadeusz Mazowiecki the first noncommunist prime minister of Poland after 1945.
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