Shop-floor pressures boil up against Polish regime
There is strong Soviet pressure on the Polish Communist Party to reassert command at the same time that shop-floor anger at the party's broken promises is boiling up into limited but mass strikes.
Between these two irreconcilable forces moderates from both the party and the free trade union Solidarity are still trying to reach a compromise.
The conspicuous example of this was the opening of negotiations between Premier Jozef Pinkowski and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa on the heels of a week-long visit to Warsaw by Soviet press and propaganda chief Leonid M. Zamyatin.
The government-Solidarity talks broke off without agreement on the key issue of free Saturdays after a six-hour session that lasted late into the night Jan. 21/22. Solidarity responded with a spontaneous display of muscle: four-hour warning strikes in Gdansk and other major cities Jan 22. by an estimated 100,000 workers, and planned strikes by 50 factories in the Warsaw region and other factories elsewhere Jan. 23.
For Solidarity the issue is not free Saturdays as such, but the feeling that the government has reneged on virtually all of its promises in the Gdansk agreement that ended the shipyard strike last August.
The most ominous hint that this time the government might resort to force to break the strikes -- for the first time since August -- came in the information received by Warsaw Solidarity headquarters from the city of Grudziadz in northern Poland. A telex from the Grudziadz branch of Solidarity said that a commission from the Polish Communist Party Central Committee was a Grudziadz; that the local party committee had called all secretaries of local party cells to a meeting; that there was a police alert, with police having surrounded city hall; and that special forces from the police officers' school had been brought into the city. The telex said also that "hooligan acts" (by provocateurs) were being prepared for the time of the one-hour strike on Jan. 23.
It is not clear if this reported police action is intended simply to frighten the workers out of their strike. But certainly there have been enough allegations in the Soviet press of counterrevolutionary forces in Poland to justify ideologically the use of force if there is any incident.
The government-Solidarity tussle seems to have been little affcted by the unpublicized visit of Mr. Zamyatin -- or by the widespread talk of imminent joint Soviet-Polish maneuvers that preceded his visit.
Mr. Zamyatin, who left Warsaw Jan. 21, is the second high Soviet official to have visited Poland this month. He came immediately after a quick trip by Marshal Viktor Kulikov, the Warsaw Pact commander. Western diplomats interpret both visits as reminders that there are limits to the deviations the Russians will tolerate in Poland.
During his stay here Zamyatin met with Polish editors and journalists in separate sessions at Trybuna Ludu, the orthodox party newspaper; zycie Warszawy, a newspaper that frequently expresses reformist views; and the Polish radio and TV.
According to two unverified accounts, Zamyatin shouted at the Zycie Warszawy staff "as if [they] were his own [subordinates]." According to the two accounts, the Zycie Warszawy editor and other Poles tried to reassure Zamyatin that there are no counterrevolutionary elements either in the Polish press or in Solidarity.
Zamyatin's discontent with the Polish news media is taken seriously by Polish news media is taken seriously by Polish journalists, who are well aware that a major Soviet complaint about Czechoslovakia prior to the Soveit/Warsaw Pact invasion of that country in 1968 was precisely that the press was out of control.
Trybuna Ludu editor Wieslaw Bek offered the Christian Science Monitor a less alarming interpretation of Zamyatin's visit. a Zamyatin's meeting with editors and top writers of Trybuna Ludu, Bek said there was an ordinary "exchange of views," and there was "nothing mysterious" about the meeting.