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7. The Solidarity Explosion

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Chapter Summary

In 1979, the Polish economy entered its first post-war recession, a decline that deepened in the next year. By the end of 1980, national income had declined a total of 7.7 percent. The government estimated the opposition throughout the country to consist of some twelve thousand people. On 1 July 1980, the government yet again raised prices and almost immediately strikes were formed. The strike was now reconstituted as a solidarity strike, without Klemens Gniech's supporters. The workers’ demands quickly centred on something hitherto non-existent in the Communist world: an independent union with the right to strike. Coastal strikes were significant enough, and the strikers were adamant enough about their demands that the government was forced to meet with them and to send its top officials to the negotiations. The negotiations dragged on and it was becoming evident that something more was necessary to prod the government into making concessions.

Keywords:coastal strikes; communist world; Klemens Gniech; Solidarity strikes



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