Poland: Protests but no strike

On September 14, mass protests were held in Warsaw against recent anti-labour legislation. Unfortunately the unions did not call a strike.

At least 100,000 people joined the demonstrations called by the three main trade unions in Poland against the legislation that basically did away with the guaranteed 8-hour working day in Poland. Despite the serious attacks against the working class, the unions backed off from calling strikes after the government threatened to do away with the system that gives them subsidized paid union jobs.

"Solidarity" careerists denounce fired unionist and ZSP, defending the bosses

The so-called “Solidarity” union from a furniture factory in Bartoszyce has issued a scandalous statement in what seems to be a campaign organized by the bosses of Black Red White company to protect its image after the events of recent weeks.

These events revolve around the BRW Sofa fatory in Nidzica, which is wholly owned by Black Red White. This company has a large share of the local furniture market and is present in other E. European countries. Notably, its owner is a billionaire and one of the richest men in Poland. The firm is very profitable. But the pay is miserable and there have been a lot of problems in BRW Sofa.

Summer in Gdansk - Solidarity

Solidarity booklet produced in late 1980 about the mass strikes in Poland which had just ended in huge victory for the workers who had made a mixture of economic and political demands.

What's wrong with the unions (pt.1)

Last year Poland raised the retirement age to 67 and this year got rid of the guaranteed 8-hour day. Up til now, the main unions have responded with barely a peep. This lack of union militancy has no doubt given the green light to the neoliberal government to push ahead with such anti-worker measures. Now, as the workers demand some response, one wonders if this will be too little, too late. What are the factors that have lead to this situation? They are complex, ranging from the specifics of the local social conditions to the institutions of trade union collaboration. The following is the first in a series of articles on the situation of the unions in Poland.

Union Jobs: The Road to Stagnation, Hierarchy and Collaboration

What it has come to: Symbolic protest met with calls to truncheon protesters

Lech Walesa has said that unionists protesting against raising the retirement age should have been clubbed and Members of Parliament from the ruling ''Civic Platform” party want to sue them for ''forced overtime”.

While the Parliament was voting to raise the retirement age, Solidarity organized some symbolic protests. Symbolic because you cannot fight this war by avoiding strikes at every time. Instead of even a symbolic one-day general strike, or thousands marching the streets, a few hundred unionists came out.

Poland 1980-1982: Class struggle and the crisis of capital - Henri Simon

Henri Simon's brilliant and detailed account and analysis of the militant working class struggles in Poland from 1980 to 1982 which were a major contributing factor to the downfall of the USSR.

The work details the factors that led to a rank-and-file workers' movement in Poland that struggled to win a greater share of the surplus value being taken away from them by the state-capitalist ruling class of Poland and even, in some cases, forge new organizational forms for production and distribution.

The role of the individual and the group in the creation of work cultures - Stan Weir

Stan Weir compares wildcat strikes in Poland and San Diego and their basis in the 'informal work group'.

At the time of this writing (August 1980) two large shipyards separated by eight thousand miles have been closed by illegal strikes. The fate of the sit-in at the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin shipyard in Gdansk and of the pre-revolutionary development it has initiated is still undetermined. The National Steel and Shipyard Company of San Diego, California, however, is running again.

History of ten years - Encyclopedie des Nuisances

Analysis of the outbreaks of class struggle in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Poland that took place between 1974 and 1984, published by the Encyclopedie des Nuisances in 1985.

History of Ten Years – Encyclopédie des Nuisances

Outline for a Historical Depiction of the Progress Attained by Social Alienation

Solidarnosc: trade unionism in Poland - Subversion

Subversion look at Solidarność's role in the uprisings which preceded the end of Stalinist rule in Poland.

The 1980 workers’ uprising in Poland was not the first time the working class there had fought back against state capitalism. ln 1956, 1970 and 1976 workers had taken to the streets when the state had tried to impose cuts in their standard of living by raising food prices.

1980: Poland mass strikes - Henri Simon

Strike in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk. 1980. Photo by T. Michalak.

Henri Simon's account of the successful strike wave which swept Poland in the summer of 1980 when the government raised the price of meat.

July 1980: Spontaneous Strikes Run Rampant Everywhere