August 19, 2005
July 8, 1980-the first strike in the Lublin region
In the wake of a rise in meat prices, workers of the WSK PZL ¦widnik aircraft manufacturer called a strike, later supported by employees of other Lublin factories, including Fabryka Maszyn Rolniczych Agromet farm machinery producer, Lubelskie Zakłady Naprawy Samochodów Ciężarowych truck repair plant, Lubelskie Zakłady Przemysłu Skórzanego leather factory and Lokomotywownia PKP railway engine depot. The Lublin strikes, involving a total of about 50,000 workers from more than 150 facilities, lasted throughout July heralding a wave of protests later referred to as the August ‘80 strikes.
Aug. 14-the Gdańsk Shipyard strike begins
The strike committee demanded that fired colleagues Anna Walentynowicz and Lech Wałęsa be reinstated. Other demands, along with a guarantee that striking employees would suffer no repercussions, included social benefits-a pay raise of zl.2,000 and introduction of the family benefits to which the MO militia officers were entitled and consent for a Monument to the Victims of December 1970. The shipyard management only agreed to some of these demands and shipyard workers decided to call a sit-in strike.
Aug. 16-Wałęsa at the head
Following the shipyard management's consent to a pay raise of zl.1,500, the strike committee ended the strike. However, a delegation from 21 other local plants led by Bogdan Lis and Andrzej Gwiazda-later leaders of the Solidarity movement-visited the shipyard with an appeal that the strike be continued. A City Strike Committee was established, headed by Wałęsa as chairman.
Aug. 17-the 21 demands
Father Henryk Jankowski, the first chaplain of a nascent Solidarity movement, said Holy Mass in front of the shipyard gates. Following the service, at the site where workers were gunned down in 1970 during communist repression of a workers' demonstration, a symbolic wooden cross was raised. The strike spread to a growing number of factories all over the country. MKS was transformed into an Interfactory Strike Committee (MKS). The final version of the famous 21 Gdańsk Demands was drawn up.
Aug. 21-the government wants to negotiate
The government delegated a special commission for talks with shipyard workers. A negotiating team chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Mieczysław Jagielski came to Gdańsk, and another group of officials led by Deputy Prime Minister Kazimierz Barcikowski arrived in Szczecin.
Aug. 23-the first talks
At the MKS, a committee of experts was set up including numerous representatives of various opposition communities that flocked to the Gdańsk Shipyard. Talks with the government delegation started in the evening in a small occupational safety (BHP) room. The first issue of the Solidarity Strike News Bulletin was printed. Bogdan Pietruszka presented a design for a monument in honor of the workers killed in 1970.
Aug. 28-strike in Jastrzębie
At the Manifest Lipcowy mine in Jastrzębie, Upper Silesia, 1,000 of the staff did not show up for the night shift. The strikers' demands included abolition of the four-shift work system in the mining industry as "detrimental to the family" and the introduction of Saturdays and Sundays off. The demand to establish free trade unions was also one of their demands. A short time later, 28 mines and 28 other plants were on strike in the region. Negotiations with the government started in Silesia Sept. 2.
Aug. 30-the Szczecin agreement
Back in Szczecin, without consulting Wałęsa's MKS, strikers signed an agreement with the government negotiators. In Gdańsk, talks continued: the MKS announced it was making the strike's end dependent on the government's willingness to free all political prisoners.
Aug. 31-the Gdańsk agreement
The MKS presidium added an appendix to point four-concerning freedom for political prisoners-with the names of individuals arrested over the previous two weeks. Jagielski stated that they all would be released in 24 hours. At 5 p.m. Wałęsa and Jagielski signed an agreement between the governmental commission and the MKS, which already represented more than 700 factories. This marked the first major success by an independent organization in confrontation with the regime in the whole communist bloc. The Western media wrote of a "historic moment" and Moscow expressed serious concern.
Sept. 3-the Jastrzębie agreement
Following 15 hours of negotiations at Jastrzębie's Manifest Lipcowy mine, an agreement was signed; here, the government also consented to the strikers' demands. Agreements were also independently signed at the Fabryka Samochodów Małolitrażowych small car producer in Tychy, the Huta Katowice steelworks, in Bytom, Siemianowice ¦l±skie and Tarnowskie Góry. In Silesia, six free interfactory trade union organizations were united in July 1981. The Gdańsk MKS was transformed into an Interfactory Workers' Committee (MKR).
Representatives of factories from all over Poland established in Gdańsk the nationwide Solidarity Independent Self-Governing Trade Union (NSZZ) and the National Liaison Commission (KKP). The name Solidarity was proposed by historian Karol Modzelewski, a political prisoner under communism. Modzelewski became the KKP press spokesman.
Oct. 24-problems with registration
The Provincial Court in Warsaw, where the Solidarity registration application was submitted one month earlier, arbitrarily introduced changes to the union statutes. Subsequently, the KKP lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court and announced its readiness to strike Nov. 12.
Oct. 31-talks in Warsaw
During talks with Prime Minister Józef Pińkowski, KKP representatives secured assurances that the appeal concerning changes in Solidarity statutes would be examined by Nov. 10. The government agreed to recognize that the union obtained the status of a legal entity Oct. 24. The unionists were also promised consent for the publication of the Tygodnik Solidarnoć« national weekly.
At the KKP meeting Nov. 9 in Gdańsk, a consensus was reached concerning changes to the statutes. Gwiazda's proposal, that the clause referring to "the leading role of the [communist] party" as negotiated by the government be included in the appendix along with sections of the International Labor Organization convention, was accepted. On the following day, the Supreme Court issued the decision concerning the registration of Solidarity statutes. Following the announcement, crowds gathered before the court in Warsaw and carried the triumphant Wałęsa on their shoulders.
Dec. 1-Moscow ready to intervene
The Soviet authorities handed over to Polish generals plans for the entry of Red Army units into Poland, under the exercise codename "Soyuz 81." The intervention was fixed for Dec. 8. At the summit of Warsaw Pact countries Dec. 5 in Moscow, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, then minister of national defense and member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party (KC PZPR), presented a concept for the shutting-down of Solidarity and the opposition without assistance from Moscow, as soon as the "first indications of exhaustion in society" appeared. Meanwhile, KC First Secretary Stanisław Kania warned Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev that at that particular time an intervention on the part of the Soviet Union might meet with a violent social response and even a general national uprising. Following the Moscow talks, the Soyuz 81 intervention was abandoned.
Dec. 16/17-anniversary celebrations
For the first time in postwar Poland, large-scale public ceremonies to commemorate victims of the communist regime were organized. Dec. 16, Solidarity delegations from all over the country participated in the unveiling of the Monument to the Victims of December ‘70 in Gdańsk. During a Holy Mass celebrated by Cracow Archbishop Franciszek Macharski, Bible readings were composed of texts translated by Polish emigre poet Czesław Miłosz, who two months earlier received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Dec. 17, on the anniversary of the tragic events of December 1970, celebrations independent from the authorities were held in Gdynia. A commemorative plaque was unveiled on the wall of the Szczecin Shipyard.
Jan. 15, 1981-papal blessing
A Solidarity delegation headed by Wałęsa was granted an audience with Pope John Paul II. For many Solidarity founders, the Polish pope was from the very beginning a source of inspiration as well as a supreme authority-not only in a religious sense, but also socially and nationally. Many historical studies emphasize the enormous significance of the pope's first visit to his homeland in June 1979 for the consciousness and attitudes of Poles. The words spoken by the pope in a homily to his compatriots: "Let your spirit descend and renew the face of the land. This land," have been widely recognized as the symbolic inception of the great social liberation movement formed one year later in Poland.
Feb. 12-the opposition presidium
The KKP Provisional Presidium was formed, consisting of: Wałęsa, Gwiazda, Ryszard Kalinowski, Zbigniew Bujak, Tadeusz Jedynak, Jan Rulewski, Andrzej Słowik and Stanisław Wˆdołowski. Andrzej Celiński became the presidium secretary.
Feb. 16-martial law in the works
A group of 45 senior officers from the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and two functionaries of the Propaganda Department of the KC PZPR started work on plans for the introduction of martial law.
Feb. 17-independent students
The minister of science, higher education and technology registered the Independent Students' Association (NZS), an alternative to the official Polish Students' Association (ZSP), which was subordinated to the PZPR.
March 19-the Bydgoszcz provocation
At a Provincial National Council (WRN) meeting in Bydgoszcz, the militia forcibly removed a protesting Solidarity delegation from the building. Union activists Rulewski, Mariusz Łabentowicz and Michał Bartoszcze sustained injuries. That was the first instance of open violence against opposition activists since Solidarity was established and a direct provocation on the part of authorities.
March 27-Poland stands still
Almost all workers in Poland took part in a four-hour token strike. Earlier, at a KKP meeting March 23, the date for a general strike was set for March 31.
March 30-general strike postponed
The Warsaw Agreement was initialed and the general strike postponed. One of the conditions was that the perpetrators of the Bydgoszcz provocation be revealed and brought to justice. However, consecutive dates set in order to clear up the matter were not met by the government; on the eve of the First National Convention of Solidarity in September, the General Prosecutor's Office discontinued the investigation.
April 3-the first issue of Tygodnik Solidarno¶ć appears
May 12-Rural Solidarity registered
Sept. 5-10-the Solidarity National Convention
The first round of the National Convention of Solidarity in Gdańsk's Olivia Hall was attended by 865 delegates from all over Poland. The convention drew up documents including a freedom "Message to the Working People of Eastern Europe" and a letter to the expatriate Polish community worldwide.
Sept. 13-the generals do their job
At a meeting of the National Defense Committee (KOK), Gen. Tadeusz Tuczapski presented martial law guidelines and related legal acts.
Sept. 26-Oct. 7-Solidarity convention: second round
Wałęsa was elected union chairman. A Solidarity social program was adopted.
Nov. 3-4-appeal for agreement
The Solidarity National Commission (KK) voted on a resolution concerning the need to negotiate a national agreement with the government. Solidarity called for the appointment of a Social Council for the Economy along with the necessary economic reform guidelines.
Dec. 3-against violence
The KK Presidium and regional chairs announced a 24-hour protest strike at a meeting in Radom if the Sejm voted to award special powers to the government, and a general strike if they were put in practice. Dec. 11-12, during debates in the Gdańsk Shipyard, the KK confirmed the Radom decision concerning the general strike in the case of a martial law showdown. Solidarity authorities declared their readiness to talk with the government, but exclusively on the condition that the state authorities renounced plans for the use of force against the Polish people.
Dec. 12/13-martial law
Telex and telephone connections were broken at 11 p.m. A few minutes after midnight, radio and television stopped broadcasting. At an order from Gen. Jaruzelski, the communists introduced martial law in Poland, followed by massive arrests of Solidarity activists and their detention in internment centers. Dec. 13, the Council of State signed a resolution concerning the introduction of martial law-a document whose legality is questioned to this day. Formal authority in the country was assumed by the Military Council for National Salvation (WRON). Most aspects of daily life were militarized, with the military deployed in strategic points in the cities, tanks and armored vehicles in the streets and military commissars assigned to supervise companies. Even TV presenters were dressed in uniforms. Dec. 14 all over the country, ZOMO riot units cracked down on workers in large factories who refused to obey martial law directives. These included a nighttime crackdown on the Gdańsk Shipyard.
Dec. 15-the first shots
The ZOMO took control of the Silesian mines in Jastrzębie and Moszczenica. Warned about the attack, the Manifest Lipcowy mine was prepared to resist. The strike was smashed by a special squad that fired on the workers without warning. Four miners were injured. The next day, the ZOMO repeated its performance at the Gdańsk Shipyard. Street fighting broke out in Gdańsk and helicopters and tanks were sent to reinforce the militia.
Dec. 16-the massacre in Wujek
The striking Wujek mine in Katowice was surrounded by militia forces and soldiers. The crowd that gathered outside the mine-including women and children-was dispersed with the use of tear gas and water cannons. Miners fought back with catapults and crowbars. The tanks overran the mine wall, followed by a militia platoon carrying live ammunition. The strike was broken, but nine lives were lost: six miners died at the scene and another three died later of their injuries. Twenty-two strikers sustained serious gunshot wounds, dozens more-other kinds of injuries. In the wake of the slaughter at Wujek and Manifest Lipcowy, Solidarity resistance started to weaken.
Dec. 17-victims in Gdańsk
More clashes with the ZOMO on Gdańsk streets: 23-year-old Antoni Browarczyk died from a gunshot wound to the head during street fights, with two more injured. The ZOMO broke up mass demonstrations in Cracow. The last striking factories in Wrocław were pacified.
Dec. 20-the region's longest strike in Gdańsk Port terminated
Dec. 28-the country's last sit-in in the Piast mine in Bieruń, Upper Silesia, ended after two weeks.