Workers in Gdansk End Strike Without Settlement
Hundreds of workers ended their eight-day strike at the Gdansk shipyard without a settlement today, leaving the plant carrying a cross and the Polish flag and led by Solidarity founder Lech Walesa.
Police stood back silently and let the workers pass as they walked slowly and calmly out of the shipyard shortly after 8 p.m. Many workers carried luggage and boxes.
The workers were applauded by bystanders as they exited, and some bystanders rushed forward and joined the workers’ procession.
Many of the workers had been in the shipyard since May 2, when the strike for higher pay and union rights began.
Strike spokesman Adam Michnik read a workers’ statement saying, “We leave without an agreement of our own free will.
“The end of the strike, however, does not mean we have resigned our cause. We shall continue our struggle in the future. There is no freedom without Solidarity,” the statement said.
Refuse Repeated Offers
The strikers, including Walesa, had repeatedly refused pay offers and other concessions during negotiations with the shipyard management and Polish authorities and had insisted on the legalization of the banned union.
Authorities refused to discuss recognition of the union they outlawed in 1982 after imposing martial law on the country.
Just before the workers ended their strike, Gdansk Bishop Tadeusz Goclowski called Gen. Jerzy Andrzejewski and demanded the removal of the police blockade around the shipyard, saying the workers were coming out, according to Michnik. Andrzejewski was commanding the security forces at the shipyard, which has been surrounded by police since Thursday.
Strike talks broke off Monday after strikers rejected a management offer. Attempts by a church mediator to persuade management to resume talks were proving unsuccessful, Michnik said.
After the alleged detention and beating of two couriers in Gdansk, strikers complained earlier today that it was becoming more and more difficult to get food supplies from outside the shipyard.
The shipyard work stoppage was the last strike in a string of five that began April 25, the country’s worst wave of labor unrest since the 1981 martial law crackdown.