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Gdańsk gets ready for Solidarity anniversary

PR dla Zagranicy
Roberto Galea 28.08.2015 09:27
Preparations are underway in northern Poland for the commemorations of the 35th anniversary of the Gdańsk Accords, which led to the creation of Solidarity, the communist bloc's first free trade union.
The Gdańsk Shipyard. Photo: Flickr.com/Peter CollinsThe Gdańsk Shipyard. Photo: Flickr.com/Peter Collins

The guest of honour at the event on Sunday will be Polish President Andrzej Duda.

The government will also convene for an extraordinary meeting in Gdańsk, northern Poland. However, it is unlikely that both sides of the Sejm lower house of parliament will participate together in the celebrations at the historic Gdańsk shipyard gate.

“We have not received any information from the Prime Minister's Office, so far there is no sign [that she will attend],” said a spokesperson for Solidarity trade union, Marek Lewandowski.

“No invitations were sent because the August anniversary is a celebration which is open to all,” Lewandowski added.

The celebrations on 31 August will commence with a Holy Mass in St. Bridget's Church, followed by a march to the historic No. 2 Gate.

One significant person missing from the celebrations will be former Solidarity leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Wałęsa. He said “I do not like anniversaries. I don’t return to the past.”

He added that during the commemorations he will be in Africa and France.

The Gdańsk shipyard was the site where strikes led to the social contract with the communist authorities on 31 August 1980.

In August 1980, Anna Walentynowicz was a crane driver in the shipyard. She was sacked for her militant opposition to the management and it was with the demand for her reinstatement that the historic strike 32 years ago began. Walentynowicz among the victgims of the Smolensk air disaster in Russia in 2010, in which Poland's presidenbtial couple was killed.

The Gdańsk Accords crucially won the right to strike for workers.

The communists pledged to restrict censorship to protecting state and economic secrets and to broadcast Sunday Mass on state radio.

The 23 postulates of the Gdańsk shipyard workers are included in the UNESCO Memory of the World register of mankind’s most important documentary heritage.

Soon after 31 of August 1980, it became clear that the Gdańsk accords marked only the beginning.

The statutes of the Solidarity Union were registered in November 1980 and within months the union grew into a social movement encompassing close on 10 million people.

On 13 December 1981 Solidarity was crushed by a communist-imposed martial law.

Following months of round table talks between the communist authorities and Solidarity Poland's first partly free elections were held in June 1989, followed by the formation of a non-communist-led government. (rg/rk)

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