Soviets, hard-line allies get tougher as Poles embrace new freedom; 42 Hoza St., where Poland's new 'free union' workers sign up
Up two floors of an old, rundown midtown apartment here, there is almost an unending line of workers come to join Poland's new independent labor unions -- from noon through the evening.Skip to next paragraph
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The address is Hoza St 42, flat No. 5. But there are two l flat No. 5s, and you reach the wrong one first and ring the bell. A woman comes to the door. Without waiting for you to state your business, she redirects you across a courtyard to the right one.
It hsas been going on like that ever since the "office" opened Sept. 8. The woman says she is tired on the constant rings, but is quite cheerful about it: "I don't mind -- it's a good thing." (So, without doubt, says most of Polan.)
Inside the apartment you enter the kitchen first. An old lady -- with a very big dog -- is cooking. In the next room someone is handing out the new union's "declaration of intent," their draft statute and preliminary registration form for membership.
The staff is composed of volunteers who come in the early afternoon straight from work. But the queue starts up by midmorning, and within an hour or so delegates from factories -- ones, twos, or more -- are waiting to "sign on."
Each delegatin is sent by one of the many factories in the Warsaw region. Each seems authorized to register in the name of most, if not all, of their factory's work force.
No one can tell yet just how many registrations have been filed. But of the 20,000 workers at Watsaw's big Ursus tractor plant it is stated that 80 percent already have applied.
Ursus was one of the major factories involved in the demonstrations and strikes of 1976. The stoppages sent the first signal of mounting worker discontent after the failure of the Gierek regime to heed grievances now acknowledged as justified.
Members of scientific, engineering, and teaching institutes already are forming new unions. Next on the list here is likely to be the Polish union of journalists. The first independent union offices were opened in the Baltic region following the settlements negotiated between the government and strike committees Aug. 30.
Since then, similar preparatory committees have been set up across the country. Registration of Gdansk, it was learned Thursday, is 100 percent. At Wroclaw, one of the major industrial-agricultural regions of the former so-called western territories, no fewer than 1 million workers have registered.
Wroclaw is one of Poland's "young" cities, populated almost entirely with children of settlers transferred from the portions of eastern Poland that went to Russia after the war.
It is the youth of this same kind of new working class in the northern coastal region -- not bound by tradition -- that is seen by many to explain the striker's victory. Their practical and disciplined militancy left the government no alternative except to settle pretty much on their terms.
Since the first Baltic agreements, new strikes or temporary work stoppages have been staged in one provincial center after another. Miners, factory hands, and public transport workers have all demanded that someone come from government to sign an agreement ensuring that the concessions will be carried out nationwide.
But a spot check Thursday suggested that most of the major industrial centers now have what they wanted. The only new stoppage reported in the last 24 hours -- at Plock near the terminal of the oil pipeline from Russia -- involved municipal transport men.
There was no word of the big petrochemical refinery there being affected, but the workers already have announced their intention of forming new unions. The existing official ones are under the same kind of pressure that is afflicting the Communist Party.
Romulad Jankowski, the new party central council chairman, welcomed the new unions but made a plea for the old established ones. In an apparent move to strengthen the latter, Jankowski pledged treforms aimed at reducing the party's influence in union affairs. But even as he spoke, more of his members were walking the stairs at 42 Hoza St.