The Polish Revolution

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On June 1, 1980, Premier Babiuch, the leader of the communist Polish Workers Party, announced new price increases in basic food products. The price hike announcement started strikes all over Poland, but the strikes were uncoordinated, so government officials settled one after another by agreeing to pay increases. In mid-July, there was a large, citywide strike in Lublin, a city southeast of Warsaw, near the Soviet border. All of the factory workers struck, and all of the railway workers stopped trains headed to the Soviet Union with consumer goods. They took the goods and distributed them to the population of Lublin. This strike was settled by Deputy Premier Mieczyslaw Jagielski, but it paved the way for the strikes that were to come in August.

In mid-August, there was a strike at the Lenin shipyard, where several workers had been killed in a strike during December of 1970. The two main reasons for the strike were the dismissal of a popular woman crane operator, Anna Walentynowicz, and the price hikes. The manager of the factory rehired Anna Walentynowicz, and agreed to pay raises, and the workers began to go home. Meanwhile, Lech Walesa, an electrician that had been a leader of the strike in 1970, arrived, and was accepted as the leader of the strike. At first, he couldn?t convince the workers to continue the strike, because most of the demands had been granted, but just at that moment delegates from other striking factories and from Gdansk City Transport arrived at the shipyard. They appealed to Walesa and the shipyard workers not to give up, because then the other strikers would have to go back to work without getting their demands. They proposed that all of the striking factories should coordinate their efforts, and work together. Walesa told this to about 400 workers (out of 10,000 total workers) who were still listening to him at the shipyard. The workers that were there agreed to continue the strike.

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