This article needs to be updated.(November 2020)
Independent Self-Governing Trade Union "Solidarity"
|Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy „Solidarność”|
|Website||Solidarnosc.org.pl (in English)|
Solidarity (Polish: „Solidarność”, pronounced [sɔliˈdarnɔɕt͡ɕ] (listen)), full name Independent Self-Governing Trade Union "Solidarity" (Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy „Solidarność”, abbreviated NSZZ „Solidarność” [ɲɛzaˈlɛʐnɨ samɔˈʐɔndnɨ ˈzvjɔ̃zɛɡ zavɔˈdɔvɨ sɔliˈdarnɔɕt͡ɕ]), is a Polish trade union founded in August 1980 at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland. Subsequently, it was the first independent trade union in a Warsaw Pact country to be recognised by the state. The union's membership peaked at 10 million in September 1981, representing one-third of the country's working-age population. Solidarity's leader Lech Wałęsa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 and the union is widely recognised as having played a central role in the end of Communist rule in Poland.
In the 1980s, Solidarity was a broad anti-authoritarian 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, the union survived and by the later 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 privatisation of state assets, Solidarity's membership 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 behaviour. Labour unions formed an important part of this network. In 1979, the Polish economy shrank for the first time since World War II, by two percent. Foreign debt reached around $18 billion by 1980.
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 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 independent trade unions merged at the congress into one national organisation, NSZZ Solidarity. It officially registered on 10 November 1980.
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,[when?] Solidarity has little influence on modern Polish politics.
Support from the United States and the Western Bloc
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." 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 million yearly in cash to Solidarity, for a total of $10 million over five years. There were no direct links between the CIA and Solidarność, and all money was channeled through third parties. CIA officers were barred from meeting Solidarity leaders, and the CIA's contacts with Solidarność 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.
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".
Relations with the Catholic Church
In 2017, Solidarity backed a proposal to implement
Lech Wałęsa has said that Pope John Paul II, and more specifically, his 1979 visit to Poland, was a significant factor in the creation of Solidarity. As John Paul II was a Poland native, he was a figure that the citizens in Poland could identify with personally, but was beyond the reach of the Communist regime. For his actions regarding Poland and Solidarity during his pontificate, he has been named by many world leaders, including Wałęsa himself, to be one of the main causes of the downfall of not just the Polish regime, but Communism as a whole in Europe.
Secular philosophical underpinnings
Although Leszek Kołakowski's works were officially banned in Poland, and he lived outside the country from the late 1960s, his philosophical 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-organised 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.
According to Kołakowski, a proletarian revolution has never occurred anywhere, as the October Revolution in Russia had nothing to do with Marxism in his view because it was achieved under the "Peace, Land and Bread" slogan. For Kołakowski, Solidarity was "perhaps closest to the working class revolution" that Karl Marx had predicted in the mid-1800s, involving "the revolutionary movement of industrial workers (very strongly supported by the intelligentsia) 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."
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
Given the union's support from many western governments, relations with trade unions in capitalist countries could be complicated. For example, during the
During the late 1980s, Solidarity had attempted to establish connections with the internal resistance to apartheid in South Africa. However, according to Wałęsa, attempts to develop links between the two forces were hampered by their geographical distance, the dearth of media coverage of events outside Poland's borders and especially in South Africa. As a result, relatively little engagement took place between the two groups.
In the United States, the
In a 2011 essay "The Jacobin Spirit" in the American magazine Jacobin, philosopher Slavoj Žižek called Solidarność' 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
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:
- Gdańsk, based in Gdańsk
- Warmia-Masuria, based in Olsztyn
- Elbląg, based in Elbląg
- Lower Silesia, based in Wrocław
- Pila, based in Piła
- Western Pomerania, based in Szczecin
- Land of Łódź, based in Łódź
- Częstochowa, based in Częstochowa
- Land of Sandomierz, based in Stalowa Wola
- Płock-Kutno, based in Płock
- Lesser Poland, based in Kraków
- Opole Silesia, based in Opole
- Seashore, based in Koszalin
- Słupsk, based in Słupsk
- Zielona Góra, based in Zielona Góra
- Podbeskidzie, based in Bielsko-Biała
- Konin, based in Konin
- Southern Greater Poland, based in Kalisz
- Podlachia, based in Białystok
- Piotrków, based in Piotrków Trybunalski
- Cuiavia and Dobrzyń Land, based in Włocławek
- Carpathia, based in Krosno
- Land of Rzeszów, based in Rzeszów
- Toruń, based in Toruń
- Silesia-Zaglebie, based in Katowice
- Land of Radom, based in Radom
- Greater Poland, based in Poznań
- Gorzów, based in Gorzów Wielkopolski
- Holy Cross, based in Kielce
- Middle-East, based in Lublin
- Bydgoszcz, based in Bydgoszcz
- Jelenia Góra, based in Jelenia Góra
- Leszno, based in Leszno
- Chełm, based in Chełm
- Przemyśl-Jarosław, based in Przemyśl
- Mazovia, based in Warsaw
- Copper Basin, based in Legnica
Network of key factories
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
|Gdańsk||Vladimir Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk|
H. Cegielski - Poznań S.A.
Rail Vehicles Repair Shop
|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|
|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|
Ursus Factory in Warsaw
|Opole||Malapanew Steelworks in Ozimek|
- Lech Wałęsa (1980–1991)
- Marian Krzaklewski (1991–2002)
- Janusz Śniadek (2002–2010)
- Piotr Duda (2010–present)
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- 1988 Polish strikes
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- 80 Million
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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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- FAES The Polish trade Union Solidarity and the European idea of freedom
- Solidarity 25th Anniversary Press Center
- Who is Anna Walentynowicz?, a documentary film about Solidarity
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- A Simple Way to Learn an Old Song A radio programme about the song "Mury", the anthem of Solidarność. In Russian with English transcript
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