More than 200,000 workers went on strike in Poland's industrial heartland tuesday as industrial turmoil spread to the coal mines. Strike leaders at their headquarters in this upper Silesian coal mining town said 32 enterprises, including 19 coal mines, have joined their movement.
The miners have presented a list of demands similar to those of the Baltic coast ship workers whose strike was settled Sunday, but with additional clauses covering mining and regional problems. They were optimistic that an accord would be signed after negotiations were resumed.
Talks between strike leaders and a government team headed by Mining Minister Wlodzimierz Lejczak opened here Monday but broke down when the minister said he did not have the authority to negotiate an agreement.Tuesday, the government side was headed by DEputy Prime Minister Aleksander Kopec.
The miners are said to be complaining about work conditions as well as demanding independent trade unions. They seek an end to Saturday work and the abolition of a round-the-clock shift system which last year helped boost Polish coal production to a record level. The church and many Roman Catholics in Silesia say the nonstop shift system prevents many faithful from attending Sunday mass.
A disaster Monday at the Halemba coal mine, where 8 people were killed and 18 injured, also prompted the strike committee to add demands calling for "an end to the robberylike coal extraction policy and the repair of worn-out mining equipment."