There are various factors that led to US intelligence confrontation in Poland. On 1st July 1980 prices of consumer’s goods, food and other commodities were hiked by the Polish government without notifying its citizen and also with no reason at all.
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What followed is that workers of Poland striked for increase of wages due to hiking of prices. This was not the first time the polish government hiked prices, it had occurred a while back. There were many protests by opposition group against the government to reduce prices and this led to some being jailed.
Protests were marked by leaflets demanding rights of polish citizens to be respected. As the protests progressed, there were other support group of the strikes like KOR that devoted its resources to making awareness to the public of the progress of this strikes.
By mid July the government appeared to have tried to solve the problem by offering wage hikes of 10 to 15 % to the workers of factories who had stroke. This appeared to have pleased the workers and they returned to work.
However the problem was not fully solved due others workers started striking due to others hiked wages. The strikes expanded to Lublin.
US Intelligence Confrontation
On 20 July, the US government intelligence community presented an alert memorandum stating that labor disputes could lead to military suppression. It said that agreements that were put forward to end disputes did not bear fruits and the increase tensions could generate a bad confrontation between the government and the workers.
The memorandum said also said that although Moscow was reluctant to be involved directly to the ongoing crisis, it would intervene as the last resort.
At the same time that the memorandum was presented, a compromise settlement was reached by the deputy prime minister jagielski and the rail strikers at lublin and they agreed to return to work. The Lublin strikes had lasted for 9 days and the entire town was paralyzed due to closure of railway lines.
Less than a month on 14 august, another strike happened in Lenin shipyard Gdansk. This workers had not before striked on July 1980 when the others strikers responded to hike of commodity prices.
What made them to strike was firing of a popular worker, Anne walentynowicz and who happened to work for long for the shipyard due to allegations of her efforts to promote a memorial of strikers who had been killed in 1970 strikes. This led to popular opposition to Poland.
The Strikes Takes a New Course
The confrontation took a new dimension with the creation of interfactory committee. This was comprised of two different areas of striking workers of Gdynia and nearby cities of Gdansk and sopot. It met in a large hall in Lenin Shipyard. The committee informed its workers it would list all of its demands and all the workers to remain on strike till their demands are met.
The list of demands included free forming of trade unions, have a right to strike and securities to strikers and their supporters, distribution of publications, restorations of jobs to those who had been previously expelled and release of political prisoners.
This demand did not only address grievances of the workers but also addressed issues concerning political, social and economical of Poland citizens. The polish government was only going to address issues concerning wages, price hike and working conditions but not political.
Strikes began to spread on every major industrial center i.e. Elblag and south east of Gdansk.Some also started to form their trade unions. The governments refused to give into these trade union political moves but instead tried to negotiate with individuals workers to give minimum wage increase.
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On 31 August Deputy Prime Minister Jagielski and Walesa sighed Gdansk agreement. It was a land mark event due the polish government committed to 21 demands put by trade unions.
On 5 September, the head of the Polish party was replaced.Again,the polish seem(parliament) went the process of voting and elected Joseph Pinkowski as Prime minister. On 17 Sep, 35 independent trade unions merged together to form unified Independent Self-governing trade union.(NSZZ) under the name solidarity(MacEachin,1980.
Due to continuing striking of trade unions and detoriation of public order, the soviet was preparing to bring in military intervention in Poland. The Poland government could not suppress the trade union with army suppression hence the Soviet intervention. The polish government could not forcefully suppress the movements on their own hence meant soviet militarily force would be required due it could not take control of the unions.
United States Reactions
There were various meeting in white house to determine how the United States would react.They issued alert memorandum stating they knew the soviet was ready to intervene militarily in Poland.The US intelligence kept a close watch on Poland border where the soviet army was patrolling. This in turn led to Soviet to let the polish government to solve its own problems.
Some Problems Solved
In late December, the polish government stated that there will be two working Saturdays per month through 1981.Atleat Solidarity (trade union) responded to this. However this did not last for long due Solidarity started to demand to remove several regional government officials of abusing local government funds and failing to implements agreements agreed with unions.
On Februally 6, a settlement was reached when the prime minister stated he had accepted the resignation of Belsko-Biela’s regional governor and two deputy regional governors. The intelligence reported that the government had started to yield to the demands of the strikers(MacEachin,1980)
On 23rd July, the government published a list of price increases.This included food products such as butter, bread, sugar.The prices had tripled while the price of ham and flour had doubled. Protests again erupted immediately.Solidarity helped to organize marches of strike.
The anger was intensified by stories in media about revealing failing economic, mismanagement of distribution of funds. There were rumors also of corruption by the government officials. Solidarity called a meeting to address the problem of deepening economic crisis.
According to Solidarity news’s bulletin for the period September, Politburo member Alban Siwak had representative from the party-fronted trade unions that special units of army and police had been established to put down a popular resistance (MacEachin, 1980) they would have been employed in two months time.Solidality publications were a source of information’s of events in Poland.
Solidarity was declared by the government to be dictatorial and the government called for as ban of strikes throughout winter. This led to a lot critism and ultimately led the government to declare a state of emergency. This led to Solidarity declaring more strikes and would take over food distribution system.
The Polish government announced that its army troops would maintain law and order. Groups of armies were deployed nation wise to solve disputes.This was to intimidate Solidarity against its national strike. However, the army was not that effective and this led to US intervention as it had declared in Memorandum.
On 12th December, Washington received report that telephone and telex connections had been cut and the polish border had been closed and polish citizens were arrested. The U.S authorities had been silent on military breakdown but had plans of invading Poland. The information was delivered by then U.S ambassador to Poland and the U.S intelligence of the problems of Poland.
The crisis in Poland in 1980–1981 brought great demands on the U.S. intelligence community. On one hand, U.S. intelligence analysts sought to determine whether the Soviet Union might send troops into Poland to crush the Solidarity movement.
On the other hand, a small group of senior intelligence and national security officials who were receiving reports from Colonel Ryszard Kukliński, a senior officer on the Polish General Staff who was secretly working for the United States (MacEachin,1980).
The Solidarity however did not stop due police took to a new way of solving things. They used force and tear gas in which the observers described as the worst form of violence to disperse solidarity members. To conclude, problems of Poland would not have lessen due the Solidarity came with new demands after a while and this now led the U.S to intervene finally through negoations,peace talks where order and peace was restored.
MacEachin, D.J. (1980). US Intelligence and the confrontation in Poland. Nd, Library of congress.