An infuriated Lech Walesa vowed Monday to fight a government decision to close the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk, birthplace of the outlawed Solidarity trade union.
The union leader issued his challenge almost immediately after the government confirmed that the state-owned shipyard is being closed Dec. 1. It is the first big industrial plant to be singled out for closure by the month-old government of Premier Mieczyslaw F. Rakowski, who has pledged to get rid of unproductive and inefficient enterprises.
The decision was announced while the shipyard was closed on the eve of All Saints’ Day and caught many workers and Solidarity activists by surprise. The yard is to reopen Wednesday.
A longtime foe of Solidarity, Rakowski took office Sept. 27 with a pledge to restructure Poland’s aging industrial base and get the economy moving. In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp., he said the decision “has nothing to do with Solidarity.”
The announcement came during an impasse in preparations for talks between Solidarity and the government, which had been promised to Walesa on Aug. 31 during the last strike at the shipyard.
A ‘Personal Provocation’
In an interview with the Associated Press, Walesa angrily denounced the decision as Rakowski’s “personal provocation . . . against the birthplace of Solidarity.” Rakowski was a firm supporter of the Dec. 13, 1981, martial-law crackdown on Solidarity.
Walesa, himself a worker at the shipyard, said in a later statement that “Solidarity will defend the enterprise which is for the union and for the whole nation a symbol of the struggle for a new and better Poland.”
Rakowski told the BBC that “there is no other way. If someone wants to make the Polish economy more healthy, he has to start with very strong steps.”
“Rakowski announced that his government will go from words and plans to firm acts which would recover the Polish economy,” PAP, the Polish news agency, said. “That would include liquidation of enterprises that are inefficient, unproductive and some enterprises which require subsidies from the state treasury.”