Gdańsk Agreement


Gdańsk Agreement

The Gdańsk Agreement (or "Gdańsk Social Accords" or "August Agreement", _pl. Porozumienia sierpniowe) was an accord reached as a direct result of the strikes that took place in Gdańsk, Poland. Workers along the Baltic coast joined the revolution in Solidarity during the month of August, 1980.

The labor strikes did not just occur because of problems that emerged shortly before the unrest, but due to the difficulties of the government and the economy for over ten years. Under the rule of Władysław Gomułka in the late 1960s, Poland’s economy was in disarray. To counter this, the government increased food prices just before Christmas in 1970 which irritated the entire populace of the nation. On December 14, 1970 workers from the Lenin shipyard in Gdańsk began a strike against party headquarters within the city insisting on the formation of independent trade unions. In this disturbance 75 people were killed after Gomułka ordered for a forceful ending of the revolt. “The Kremlin did not agree and intervened to urge the need for a political solution. For the nationalist communist Gomułka, Soviet dictation of internal Polish policies was too much” Edward Gierek, who appeared to be more open to workers needs and have strong political ties to the working class soon replaced Gomułka. This was the first occasion in Europe since World War II that labor strikes were able to remove a ruler from power.

Gierek at first was able to stress for economic reforms during the first half of his tenure in office. “The stated objective of the reforms was to increase living standards; a less publicly attested motivation was the knowledge that, with prices fixed and with demand increasing, goods had to be put into circulation to avoid rampant inflation” In years prior to the Gdańsk strikes of 1980 the reforms of Gierek did succeed as planned and the economy of Poland became more and more unstable. This was due to Poland’s reliance on western markets and the loans that the nation could not repay.

“Fueled by large infusions of Western credit, Poland's economic growth rate was one of the world's highest during the first half of the 1970s. But much of the borrowed capital was misspent and the centrally planned economy was unable to use the new resources effectively. The growing debt burden became insupportable in the late 1970s and economic growth had become negative by 1979.”

As the economy became unbearable, the Communist government authorized the increase in food prices for the summer of 1980. Once again a revival of labor disturbances erupted throughout the nation. Workers of the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk ultimately went on strike in mid August. Led by electrician Lech Wałęsa, the workers took control of the shipyard and demanded labor reform and greater civil rights including the freedom of expression and religion, and the release of political prisoners. “With his electrifying personality, quick wit and gift of the gab, he was soon leading it. He moved his fellow workers away from mere wage claims and toward a central, daringly political demand: free trade unions.”

Due to the popular support of the citizens and other striking groups, the Gdańsk workers held out until the government gave in to their demands. The successful strikers formed the Gdańsk Agreement on August 31, 1980 as an authentic social contract with the government. This allowed citizens to bring democratic changes within the communist political structure. The main concern of the workers was the establishment of a trade union independent of communist party control and the legal right to strike. In creating these new groups, there would be a clear representation of the workers’ needs.

“These new unions are intended to defend the social and material interests of the workers, and not to play the role of a political party, they will be established on the basis of socialization of the means of production and of the socialist system that exists in Poland today.” Other major concerns were to control commercial prices, the use of foreign money in all internal economic dealings, ensuring the proper supply of resources within the nation and only export the excess. This would ensure that there would be a better chance for prosperity within the nation for all working citizens.

The Gdańsk Agreement is very important to the politics of Poland because the strikes exposed the corruption and negligence within the state’s leadership. In recognizing individual rights, such as the freedom of expression, the government is opened for the creation of civil societies. This allows citizens to come together where all people can agree on human rights regardless of party beliefs. The problems caused by the labor movements and the ensuing Gdańsk Agreement led to the removal of Edward Gierek and the installation of Stanisław Kania in September 1980.

"Solidarność", the independent trade union that emerged from the Lenin Shipyard strike, was unlike anything in the history of Poland. Even though it was mainly a labor movement representing workers led by chairman Wałęsa, it attracted an assorted membership of different citizens which quickly rose to unpararelled proportion of a quarter of the country's population: 10 million people nationwide. Due to its enormous size and newly found power, the union assumed the role of a national reform lobby able to change politics in Poland forever.

References

#Crampton, R. J. "Eastern Europe in the twentieth century". 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 1994. pg. 359.
#Crampton, R. J. "Eastern Europe in the twentieth century". 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 1994. pg. 360.
# [http://www.world66.com/europe/poland/history "History of Poland." Poland History. July 27, 2005.] December 1, 2005.
# [http://www.time.com/time/time100/leaders/profile/walesa.html Ash, Timothy. "Lech Walesa." TIME 100 Most Influential People: Leaders and Revolutionaries. April 18, 1998] 2 December 2005.
#Stokes, Gale. "From Stalinism to Pluralism". New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • GDANSK — (Ger. Danzig), major commercial port in Poland, situated at the estuary of the Vistula on the Baltic. In 1308 the city passed to the Teutonic Order, which prohibited Jewish settlement there. During the first half of the 15th century Jews from… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • History of Gdańsk — This article is about the History of Gdańsk (Danzig), a city located on the Baltic Sea. History Early times The area around the Vistula delta was inhabited by populations belonging to the various archaeological cultures of the Stone Age, Bronze… …   Wikipedia

  • Golden Gate (Gdańsk) — Golden Gate ( pl. Złota Brama) in Gdańsk, Poland, originally Langgasser Tor, is one of the most notable tourist attractions of the city. It was raised in 1612 ndash;14 in place of the 13th century gothic gate (Brama Długouliczna). It is located… …   Wikipedia

  • Centre Agreement — Porozumienie Centrum ( PC, Centre Agreement ) was a Polish centrist christian democratic political party. Party rose in 1990 after breaking with Solidarność. Its chairman was Jarosław Kaczyński. In its programme, the PC opposed socialism and was… …   Wikipedia

  • History of Solidarity — The history of Solidarity (Polish: Audio|Solidarnosc.ogg| Solidarność IPA2|sɔlidarnɔɕt͡ɕ), a Polish non governmental trade union, began in August 1980 at the Lenin Shipyards (now Gdańsk Shipyards) where it was founded by Lech Wałęsa and others.… …   Wikipedia

  • History of Poland — Highly developed agricultural people have lived in the area that is now Poland for the last 7500 years, the Slavic people have settled in this territory for over 1500 years, and the History of Poland as a state spans well over a millennium. The… …   Wikipedia

  • Lech Wałęsa — Infobox Officeholder name = Lech Wałęsa imagesize = 220px order = President of the Republic of Poland 2nd President of the Third Republic term start = December 22, 1990 term end = December 22, 1995 primeminister = Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Jan… …   Wikipedia

  • History of Poland (1945–1989) — The history of Poland from 1945 to 1989 spans the period of Soviet Communist dominance over the People s Republic of Poland following World War II. These years, while featuring many improvements in the standards of living in Poland, were marred… …   Wikipedia

  • Mieczysław Jagielski — Member of the Politburo of the Polish United Workers Party In office December 1971 – July 1981 Prime Minister Piotr Jaroszewicz, Edward Babiuch, Józef Pińkowski, Wojciech Jaruzelski …   Wikipedia

  • Solidarity (Polish trade union) — Solidarity Full name Independent Self governing Labour Union Solidarity Native name Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy Solidarność Founded 31st August 1980 Members 400,000 …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.