|Full name||Independent Self-governing Trade Union "Solidarity"|
|Native name||Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy "Solidarność"|
|Founded||(recognition) 31 August 1980|
(1st Congress) 17 September 1980
(registration) 10 November 1980
|Members||Almost 10 million at the end of the first year; over 400,000 in 2011 (680,000 in 2010)|
|Affiliation||ITUC, ETUC, TUAC|
|Key people||Anna Walentynowicz, Lech Wałęsa|
|Office location||Gdańsk, Poland|
|Website||Solidarnosc.org.pl (in English)|
Solidarity (Polish : Solidarność, pronounced [sɔlʲiˈdarnɔɕtɕ] (
In the 1980s, Solidarity was a broad anti-bureaucratic social movement, using methods of civil resistance to advance the causes of workers' rights and social change.Government attempts in the early 1980s to destroy the union through the imposition of martial law in Poland and the use of political repression failed. Operating underground, with significant financial support from the Vatican and the United States, estimated to be as much as US$50 million, the union survived and by the latter 1980s had entered into negotiations with the government.
The 1989 round table talks between the government and the Solidarity-led opposition produced agreement for the 1989 legislative elections, the country's first pluralistic election since 1947. By the end of August, a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed and in December 1990, Wałęsa was elected President of Poland.
Following Poland's transition to liberal capitalism in the 1990s and the extensive privatization of state assets, Solidarity's membership and influence declined significantly; by 2010, 30 years after being founded, the union had lost more than 90% of its original membership.
In the 1970s Poland's government raised food prices while wages were stagnant. This and other stresses led to protests in 1976 and a subsequent government crackdown on dissent. The KOR, the ROPCIO and other groups began to form underground networks to monitor and oppose the government's behavior. Labour unions formed an important part of this network. billion by 1980.In 1979, the Polish economy shrank for the first time since World War II, by 2 percent. Foreign debt reached around $18
Anna Walentynowicz was fired from the Gdańsk Shipyard on 7 August 1980, five months before she was due to retire, for participation in the illegal trade union. This management decision enraged the workers of the shipyard, who staged a strike action on 14 August defending Anna Walentynowicz and demanding her return. She and Alina Pienkowska transformed a strike over bread and butter issues into a solidarity strike in sympathy with strikes on other establishments.
Solidarity emerged on 31 August 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyard when the communist government of Poland signed the agreement allowing for its existence. On 17 September 1980, over twenty Inter-factory Founding Committees of free trade unions merged at the congress into one national organization NSZZ Solidarity.It officially registered on 10 November 1980.
Lech Wałęsa and others formed a broad anti-Soviet social movement ranging from people associated with the Catholic Church [ self-published source ] In September 1981, Solidarity's first national congress elected Wałęsa as a president and adopted a republican program, the "Self-governing Republic". The government attempted to destroy the union with the martial law of 1981 and several years of repression, but in the end it had to start negotiating with the union.to members of the anti-Soviet left. Polish nationalism, together with pro-American liberalism, played an important part in the development of Solidarity in the 1980s. Solidarity advocated non-violence in its members' activities.
Roundtable Talks between the government and Solidarity-led opposition led to semi-free elections in 1989. By the end of August a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed, and in December Tadeusz Mazowiecki was elected Prime Minister. Since 1989, Solidarity has become a more traditional trade union, and had relatively little impact on the political scene of Poland in the early 1990s. A political arm founded in 1996 as Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) won the parliamentary election in 1997, but lost the following 2001 election. Currently, as a political party Solidarity has little influence on modern Polish politics.
In the year leading up to martial law, Reagan Administration policies supported the Solidarity movement, waging a public relations campaign to deter what the Carter administration had seen as "an imminent move by large Soviet military forces into Poland." million yearly in cash to Solidarity, for a total of $10 million over five years. There were no direct links between the CIA and Solidarnosc, and all money was channeled through third parties. CIA officers were barred from meeting Solidarity leaders, and the CIA's contacts with Solidarnosc activists were weaker than those of the AFL-CIO, which raised $300,000 from its members, which were used to provide material and cash directly to Solidarity, with no control of Solidarity's use of it. The U.S. Congress authorized the National Endowment for Democracy to promote democracy, and the NED allocated $10 million to Solidarity.Michael Reisman from Yale Law School named operations in Poland as one of the covert regime change actions of the CIA during the Cold War. Colonel Ryszard Kukliński, a senior officer on the Polish General Staff, was secretly sending reports to CIA officer David Forden. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) transferred around $2
The Polish government enacted martial law in December 1981, however, Solidarity was not alerted. Potential explanations for this vary; some believe that the CIA was caught off guard, while others suggest that American policy-makers viewed an internal crackdown as preferable to an "inevitable Soviet intervention."CIA support for Solidarity included money, equipment and training, which was coordinated by Special Operations. Henry Hyde, U.S. House intelligence committee member, stated that the USA provided "supplies and technical assistance in terms of clandestine newspapers, broadcasting, propaganda, money, organizational help and advice". Initial funds for covert actions by CIA were $2 million, but soon after authorization were increased and by 1985 CIA successfully infiltrated Poland.
In 2017, Solidarity backed a proposal to implement blue laws to prohibit Sunday shopping, a move supported by Polish bishops.A 2018 new Polish law banning almost all trade on Sundays has taken effect, with large supermarkets and most other retailers closed for the first time since liberal shopping laws were introduced in the 1990s. The Law and Justice party passed the legislation with the support of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Although Leszek Kołakowski's works were officially banned in Poland, and he lived outside the country from the late 1960s, the philosopher's ideas nonetheless exerted an influence on the Solidarity movement. Underground copies of his books and essays shaped the opinions of the Polish intellectual opposition. His 1971 essay Theses on Hope and Hopelessness, which suggested that self-organized social groups could gradually expand the spheres of civil society in a totalitarian state, helped inspire the dissident movements of the 1970s that led to the creation of Solidarity and provided a philosophical underpinning for the movement.
Kołakowski later described Solidarity as "perhaps [the] closest to the working class revolution" that Karl Marx had predicted in the mid-1800s. Ironically, however, Solidarity featured many elements contrary to socialism as conceived by Marx: "[workers organized] against the exploiters, that is to say, the state. And this solitary example of a working class revolution (if even this may be counted) was directed against a socialist state, and carried out under the sign of the cross, with the blessing of the Pope."
The survival of Solidarity was an unprecedented event not only in Poland, a satellite state of the USSR ruled (in practice) by a one-party Communist regime, but the whole of the Eastern bloc. It meant a break in the hard-line stance of the communist Polish United Workers' Party, which had bloodily ended a 1970 protest with machine-gun fire (killing over thirty and injuring over 1,000), and the broader Soviet communist government in the Eastern Bloc, which had quelled both the 1956 Hungarian Uprising and the 1968 Prague Spring with Soviet-led invasions.
Solidarity's influence led to the intensification and spread of anti-communist ideals and movements throughout the countries of the Eastern Bloc, weakening their communist governments. As a result of the Round Table Agreement between the Polish government and the Solidarity-led opposition, elections were held in Poland on 4 June 1989, in which the opposition was allowed to field candidates against the Communist Party—the first free elections in any Soviet bloc country. A new upper chamber (the Senate) was created in the Polish parliament and all of its 100 seats were contestable in the election, as well as one-third of the seats in the more important lower chamber (the Sejm). Solidarity won 99 of the 100 Senate seats and all 161 contestable seats in the Sejm—a victory that also triggered a chain reaction across the Soviet Union's satellite states, leading to almost entirely peaceful anti-communist revolutions in Central and Eastern Europeknown as the Revolutions of 1989 (Jesień Ludów or Wiosna Obywatelów), which ended in the overthrow of each Moscow-imposed regime, and ultimately to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
Given the union's support from many western governments, relations with trade unions in capitalist countries could be complicated. For example, during the UK miners' strike of 1984–85, Wałęsa said that "The miners should fight, but with common sense—not with destruction" and said of Margaret Thatcher "With such a wise and brave woman, Britain will find a solution to the strike." However, David Jastrzębski, the president of Upper Silesia Solidarity, voiced his support of the striking miners: "Neither the British government's mounted police charges nor its truncheon blows, any more than the Polish junta's tanks or rifle fire, can break our common will to struggle for a better future for the working class."This was despite the fact that Arthur Scargill, president of the British National Union of Mineworkers had been highly critical of Solidarity, condemning it as an "anti-socialist organization which desires the overthrow of a socialist state".
In 2005, the trade union Solidarity – The Union for British Workers was created in honour of the original Polish union by the far-right British National Party.
In late 2008, several democratic opposition groups in the Russian Federation formed a Solidarity movement.
In the United States, the American Solidarity Party (formerly the Christian Democratic Party USA), a Christian democratic political party, attributes its namesake to Solidarity.
In a 2011 essay "The Jacobin Spirit" in the American magazine Jacobin, philosopher Slavoj Zizek called Solidarnosc' one of the "free spaces at a distance from state power" that used "defensive violence" to protect itself from state control. The notion of "defensive violence" runs in the vein of ideas postulated by Alain Badiou.
The union was officially founded on 17 September 1980,the union's supreme powers were vested in a legislative body, the Convention of Delegates (Zjazd Delegatów). The executive branch was the National Coordinating Commission (Krajowa Komisja Porozumiewawcza), later renamed the National Commission (Komisja Krajowa). The Union had a regional structure, comprising 38 regions (region) and two districts (okręg). At its highest, the Union had over 10 million members, which became the largest union membership in the world. During the communist era the 38 regional delegates were arrested and jailed when martial law came into effect on 13 December 1981 under General Wojciech Jaruzelski. After a one-year prison term the high-ranking members of the union were offered one way trips to any country accepting them (including Canada, the United States, and nations in the Middle East).
Solidarity was organized as an industrial union, or more specifically according to the One Big Union principle, along the lines of the Industrial Workers of the World and the Spanish Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (workers in every trade were organized by region, rather than by craft).
In 2010, Solidarity had more than 400,000 members.National Commission of Independent Self-Governing Trade Union is located in Gdańsk and is composed of Delegates from Regional General Congresses.
Solidarity is divided into 37 regions, and the territorial structure to a large degree reflects the shape of Polish voivodeships, established in 1975 and annulled in 1998 (see: Administrative division of People's Republic of Poland). The regions are:
The network of Solidarity branches of the key factories of Poland was created on 14 April 1981 in Gdańsk. It was made of representatives of seventeen factories; each stood for the most important factory of every voivodeship of the pre-1975 Poland (see: Administrative division of People's Republic of Poland). However, there were two exceptions. There was no representative of the Koszalin Voivodeship, and the Katowice Voivodeship was represented by two factories:
|Gdańsk||Vladimir Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk|
|Poznań||H. Cegielski - Poznań S.A.|
|Bydgoszcz||Rail Vehicles Repair Shop|
|Zielona Góra||Rolling Stock and Steel Works Zastal in Zielona Góra|
|Katowice||Wujek Coal Mine in Katowice|
|The Spare Parts Factory Zgoda in Świętochłowice|
|Kraków||Vladimir Lenin Steelworks in Nowa Huta|
|Wrocław||Rail Carriage Factory Pafawag in Wrocław|
|Rzeszów||Factory of Communication Equipment WSK in Rzeszów|
|Białystok||Cotton Works Fasty in Białystok|
|Kielce||Ball Bearings Factory Iskra in Kielce|
|Olsztyn||Tire Company Stomil in Olsztyn|
|Lublin||Factory of Communication Equipment PZL in Świdnik|
|Łódź||Julian Marchlewski Cotton Works in Łódź|
|Warsaw||Ursus Factory in Warsaw|
|Opole||Malapanew Steelworks in Ozimek|
Andrzej Gwiazda is an engineer and prominent opposition leader, who participated in Polish March 1968 Events and December 1970 Events; one of the founders of Free Trade Unions, Member of the Presiding Committee of the Strike at Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk in August 1980, Vice President of the Founding Committee of Solidarity, then Vice President of Solidarity in 1980 and 1981; in December 1981 interned and next imprisoned with six other Solidarność leaders. His wife, Joanna Duda-Gwiazda also was a prominent member of the anticommunist opposition in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Polish Round Table Talks took place in Warsaw, Poland from 6 February to 5 April 1989. The government initiated talks with the banned trade union Solidarność and other opposition groups in an attempt to defuse growing social unrest.
Jacek Jan Kuroń was one of the democratic leaders of opposition in the People's Republic of Poland. He was widely known as the "godfather of the Polish opposition," not unlike Václav Havel in Czechoslovakia. Kuroń was a prominent Polish social and political figure largely responsible for theorizing the movement that broke the back of communism, an ideology he initially tried to reform. As an educator and historian, he first postulated the concept of a de-centered movement that would question the totalitarian system and its personality cult. Kuroń started out as an activist of the Polish Scouting Association trying to educate young people that would take charge of the future; he later co-founded with Antoni Macierewicz the Workers' Defence Committee or KOR, a major dissident organization that was superseded by Solidarity in August 1980. After the changes in independent Poland, he ran for president supported by the likes of Jan Karski and served twice as Minister of Labour and Social Policy. Kuroń was the father of chef Maciej Kuroń.
The history of Poland from 1945 to 1989 spans the period of communist rule imposed over Poland after the end of World War II. These years, while featuring general industrialization, urbanization and many improvements in the standard of living, were marred by early Stalinist repressions, social unrest, political strife and severe economic difficulties.
The Gdańsk Agreement was an accord reached as a direct result of the strikes that took place in Gdańsk, Poland. Workers along the Baltic went on strike in August 1980 in support of the 21 demands of MKS which eventually led to the creation of Solidarity.
Martial law in Poland refers to the period between 13 December 1981 and 22 July 1983, when the socialist government of the Polish People's Republic drastically restricted normal life by introducing martial law and a military junta in an attempt to throttle political opposition, in particular the Solidarity Movement. Thousands of opposition activists were imprisoned without charge and as many as 91 killed. Although martial law was lifted in 1983, many of the political prisoners were not released until a general amnesty in 1986.
Gdańsk Shipyard is a large Polish shipyard, located in the city of Gdańsk. The yard gained international fame when Solidarity (Solidarność) was founded there in September 1980. It is situated on the left side of Martwa Wisła and on Ostrów Island.
Bogdan Jerzy Lis worked in Port of Gdańsk and Elmor company. Between 1971 and 1972 he was imprisoned for his participation in the anti-governmental coastal cities protests. Although in 1975 he joined the Polish United Workers Party, in 1978 he was one of the founders of the anti-government Free Trade Unions of the Coast. In mid-1980 he organized the strike in Elmor, and took part in the creation of the Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee and soon afterwards, together with Lech Wałęsa and others, of the NSZZ Solidarity itself.
Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee was an action strike committee formed in Gdańsk Shipyard, People's Republic of Poland on 16 August 1980. It was led by Lech Wałęsa and others and is famous for issuing the 21 demands of MKS on 17 August, that eventually led to the Gdańsk Agreement and creation of Solidarity.
Anna Walentynowicz was a Polish free trade union activist and co-founder of Solidarity, the first non-communist trade union in the Eastern Bloc. Her firing from her job at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk in August 1980 was the event that ignited the strike at the shipyard, set off a wave of strikes across Poland, and quickly paralyzed the Baltic coast. The Interfactory Strike Committee (MKS) based in the Gdańsk shipyard eventually transformed itself into Solidarity; by September, more than one million workers were on strike in support of the 21 demands of MKS, making it the largest strike ever.
The history of Solidarity, a Polish non-governmental trade union, began on August 14, 1980, at the Lenin Shipyards at its founding by Lech Wałęsa and others. In the early 1980s, it became the first independent labor union in a Soviet-bloc country. Solidarity gave rise to a broad, non-violent, anti-communist social movement that, at its height, claimed some 9.4 million members. It is considered to have contributed greatly to the fall of communism.
Mieczysław Zygmunt Jagielski was a Polish politician and economist. During the times of the People's Republic of Poland he was the last leading politician from the former eastern regions of pre-Second World War Poland.
Polish underground press, devoted to prohibited materials, has a long history of combatting censorship of oppressive regimes in Poland. It existed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, including under foreign occupation of the country, as well as during the totalitarian rule of the pro-Soviet government. Throughout the Eastern Bloc, bibuła published until the collapse of communism was known also as samizdat.
Alina Barbara Pienkowska was a Polish free trade union activist and a Senator for Gdańsk. She was involved in the creation of Solidarity, of which she was a member of its organizing committee.
In the early spring of 1981, the quickly growing Solidarity movement faced one of the biggest challenges in its short history, when during the Bydgoszcz events, several members of Solidarity, including Jan Rulewski, Mariusz Łabentowicz and Roman Bartoszcze, were brutally beaten up by the security services, such as Milicja Obywatelska and ZOMO. The Bydgoszcz events soon became widely known across Poland, and on March 24, 1981, Solidarity decided to go on a nationwide strike in protest against the violence. The strike was planned for Tuesday, March 31, 1981. On March 25, Lech Wałęsa met Deputy Prime Minister Mieczysław Rakowski of the Polish United Workers' Party, but their talks were fruitless. Two days later, a four-hour national warning strike took place. It was the biggest strike in the history of not only Poland but of the Soviet Bloc itself. According to several sources, between 12 million and 14 million Poles took part in it.
Rural Solidarity is a trade union of Polish farmers, established in late 1980 as part of the growing Solidarity movement. Its legalization became possible on February 19, 1981, when officials of the government of the People's Republic of Poland signed the so-called Rzeszów - Ustrzyki Dolne Agreement with striking farmers. Previously, Communist government had refused farmers’ right to self-organize, which caused widespread strikes, with the biggest wave taking place in January 1981. The Rural Solidarity was officially recognized on May 12, 1981, and, strongly backed by the Catholic Church of Poland, it claimed to represent at least half of Poland's 3.2 million smallholders.
The 1988 Polish strikes were a massive wave of workers' strikes which broke out in 1988 in the Polish People's Republic. The strikes, as well as street demonstrations, continued throughout spring and summer, ending in early September 1988. These actions shook the Communist regime of the country to such an extent that it was forced to begin talking about recognising Solidarity. As a result, later that year, the regime decided to negotiate with the opposition, which opened way for the 1989 Round Table Agreement. The second, much bigger wave of strikes surprised both the government, and top leaders of Solidarity, who were not expecting actions of such intensity. These strikes were mostly organized by local activists, who had no idea that their leaders from Warsaw had already started secret negotiations with the Communists.
Lech Wałęsa is a Polish statesman, dissident, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who served as the first democratically-elected President of Poland from 1990 to 1995. A shipyard electrician by trade, he became the leader of Solidarity, and led a successful pro-democratic effort which in 1989 ended the communist rule in Poland and ushered in the end of the Cold War.
Solidarity Poland nonviolence.[ self-published source ]
The nominees of the American Solidarity Party (ASP), which takes its name from the Polish movement of the late Cold War and calls itself "the only active Christian Democratic party in the United States."
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