Gdansk

August Accords

31 Aug 2018
In 1980 the first free trade union in the Communist Bloc, Solidarity, issued 21 demands to the authorities. This list of demands was the result of top-level discussions between trade union activists such as Andrzej Gwiazda, Bogdan Lis and Bogdan Borusewicz of KOR. As comprehensive as the list seems it should be noted that it was drastically shortened.

Keen to add their own personal grievances, ideas suggested by various strikers ranged from the bizarre to the extreme: the idea of free elections was mooted, before being rejected out of fear this would spark an invasion by Soviet forces.

The charter was written up on two wooden boards and hung on the gates of the shipyard on August 18. To mark the first anniversary of the August unrest the demands were put on display in Gdańsk’s Maritime Museum. The day after Martial Law was declared one museum worked hid them in his loft, where they remained forgotten until 1996. Now added to the World Heritage List, they can be found housed in the permanent exhibition of the European Solidarity Centre. The demands issued by the strikers were as follows.

1. Acceptance of free trade unions independent of the Communist Party and of enterprises, in accordance with convention No. 87 of the International Labor Organization concerning the right to form free trade unions, which was ratified by the Communist Government of Poland.

2. A guarantee of the right to strike and of the security of strikers and those aiding them.

3. Compliance with the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech, the press and publication, including freedom for independent publishers, and the availability of the mass media to representatives of all faiths.

4. A return of former rights to: 1) People dismissed from work after the 1970 and 1976 strikes, and 2) Students expelled from school because of their views. The release of all political prisoners, among them Edward Zadrozynski, Jan Kozlowski, and Marek Kozlowski. A halt in repression of the individual because of personal conviction.

5. Availability to the mass media of information about the formation of the Inter-factory Strike Committee and publication of its demands.

6. The undertaking of actions aimed at bringing the country out of its crisis situation by the following means: a) making public complete information about the social-economic situation, and b) enabling all sectors and social classes to take part in discussion of the reform programme.

7. Compensation of all workers taking part in the strike for the period of the strike, with vacation pay from the Central Council of Trade Unions.

8. An increase in the base pay of each worker by 2,000 złoty a month as compensation for the recent raise in prices.

9. Guaranteed automatic increases in pay on the basis of increases in prices and the decline in real income.

10. A full supply of food products for the domestic market, with exports limited to surpluses.

11. The abolition of 'commercial' prices and of other sales for hard currency in special shops.

12. The selection of management personnel on the basis of qualifications, not party membership. Privileges of the secret police, regular police and party apparatus are to be eliminated by equalizing family subsidies, abolishing special stores, etc.

13. The introduction of food coupons for meat and meat products (during the period in which control of the market situation is regained).

14. Reduction in the age for retirement for women to 50 and for men to 55, or after 30 years' employment in Poland for women and 35 years for men, regardless of age.

15. Conformity of old-age pensions and annuities with what has actually been paid in.

16. Improvements in the working conditions of the health service to insure full medical care for workers.

17. Assurances of a reasonable number of places in day-care centers and kindergartens for the children of working mothers.

18. Paid maternity leave for three years.

19. A decrease in the waiting period for apartments.

20. An increase in the commuter's allowance to 100 złoty from 40, with a supplemental benefit on separation.

21. A day of rest on Saturday. Workers in the brigade system or round-the-clock jobs are to be compensated for the loss of free Saturdays with an increased leave or other paid time off.
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