The term "Lublin July Strikes"
is well-known to historians and other people from Lublin Region, but in
other areas of Poland it is overshadowed by the notion "August Strikes
at the Coast", and only few know that the events have a lot in common. Early July 1980 events.
were a surprise to everyone - incluiding their paticipants. Lublin
Region had so far been associated rather with relentness and peaceful
approach towards the authorities, who felt quite secure in the place
where the PKWN Manifesto was signed.
Before the July
The 1970s were an era of growing social and economic crisis. There
were insufficient goods for industry, there were breaks in energy and
gas delivery, which led to stoppages. This resulted in bad quality of
products and lack of some goods on the market (e.g. meat, butter, coal,
shoes, furniture). In addition, there was insufficient workforce in the
jobmarket - in 1979 there were 33,6 vacancies per one male looking for
a job. At the beginning of July 1980 prices of some kinds of meat were
raised. Strikes in Mielec and Warsaw began.
Strike in Świdnik
On 8 July, 1980 a strike in Świdnik Transport Equipment Factory
(Wytwórnia Sprzętu Komunikacyjnego, WSK) began. It was received with
disbelief, especially because the whole thing had started due to... a
pork chop. A price of lunch (or, more precisely, a so-called "meat
component" of lunch, at that day a pork chop) was increased by almost
80% - from 10 zloty 20 to 18 zloty 10.
The first agreement between
the strikers and the auhorities with political undertones was signed in
Świdnik. The political issues concerned problems such as not taking
repressive action against the strikers and giving more freedom to trade
unions. These demands were raised in Świdnik first. Although starting
from August 1980 there were more stoppages in different places in
Poland, e.g. in Tomaszów, Mielec, Ursus, in none of these places they
were followed by a longer strike and a signed agreement. Such an
agreement was a signal that dialogue is possible.
Strikes in Lublin and Lublin Region
The strikes took place between 8 and 24 July, 1980 in 91 facilities
in Lublin. Among them, the work was stopped in: authorized garage ASO
?Polmozbyt" at Wojciechowska St in Lublin, encouraged by the workers'
from Świdnik behaviour. on 9 July they were followed by Agricultural
Machines Factory "Agromet" (Fabryka Maszyn Rolniczych ?Agromet"), then
Lublin Car Repair Workshops (Lubelskie Zakłady Naprawy Samochodów),
Truck Factory (Fabryka Samochodów Ciężarowych) and Lublin Leather
Industry Factory (Lubelskie Zakłady Przemysłu Skórzanego). Meat
Processing Plant (Zakłady Mięsne), Lublin Scales Factory (Lubelska
Fabryka Wag), Poultry and Egg Processing Plant (Zakłady
Jajczarsko-Drobiarskie), Herbapol, Wood and Chemical Industry
Production Cooperative of Invalids (Drzewno-Chemiczna Spółdzielnia
Inwalidów). On 16 July, Lulbin Roundhouse (Lokomotywownia Pozaklasowa w
Lublinie) joined the strike. At that time, as many as 79 facilites in
Lublin Region were on strike. The protest was actively supported by
staffs of: Lublin Estate Construction Company (Lubelskie
Przedsiębiorstwo Budownictwa Mieszkaniowego), Lublin Industrial
Construction Company (Lubelskie Przedsiębiorstwo Budownictwa
Przemysłowego), Engineering Work Company (Przedsiębiorstwo Robót
Inżynieryjnych), PTHW, Transbud, Thermal-Electric Power Station,
Cefarm, Polfa, Power Engineering Repairs Facility (Zakład Remontowo-
Energetyczny), Production Cooperative of the Blind (Spółdzielnia Pracy
Niewidomych), City Transport (MPK), WPHW, Agricultural Transport
Cooperative (Spółdzielnia Transportu Wiejskiego), House Factory
(Fabryka Domów), Municipal Services and Waste Management Company (MPO),
Gas Stations (CPN), Bus Transpor't (PKS), Fur Industry Facility
(Zakłady Kuśnierskie), Toy Production Cooperative "Bjka" (Spółdzielnia
Zabawkarska ?Bajka"). In Kraśnik: City Transport (MPK), Bus Transport
(PKS), PTHW, Rolling Bearing Factory (Fabryka Łożysk Tocznych) went on
strike. In Lubartów :Glassworks (Huta Szkła), Tannery (Garbarnia) and
Mechanical Production Facility (Mechaniczne Zakłady Produkcyjne). In
Puławy: Works of Nitrogen Compounds (Zakłady Azotowe) and Bus Transport
(PKS). In Chełm: City Transport Facility (Zakład Komunikacji Miejskiej)
and Transbud, as well as: the Poniatów ?Eda", Work Cooperative in Opole
Lubelskie (Spółdzielnia Pracy w Opolu Lubelskim), the Biłgoraj branch
of PTHW, Technical Device Production Facility (Przedsiębiorstwo
Urządzeń Technicznych) in Radzyń Podl. and Kock, Textile Facilities
"Delia" (Zakłady Odzieżowe ?Delia") in Zamość, Gardening Industrial
Complex (Kombinat Ogrodniczy) in Leonów, branches of LZNS in Chodel,
Siedliszcze and Garbów and branches of Puławy Bus Transport (PKS) in
Ryki and Michów.
Therefore, railway workers, public transport and
communal services employees, almost all big and small industrial,
construction and transport facilities took part in the general strike.
Characteristic of the Strikes
The strikers did not go out to the streets and they did not organize
any protests in the city. They put out strike flags and banners and
remained in their workplaces, where the staffs organized protest
rallies, chose their representatives for talks with the managements,
and organized disciplinary service. The July 1980 strikes were not
sit-down strikes, but rotational ones. While a part of staff were
remaining at workplace, others went home. The protesters demanded,
along the economic conditions, a security warrant for the strikers.
Their postulates concerned: wages, basic products supplies and
improvement of working conditions. The Lublin Railway Division workers
1. An increase of 1300 zloty a month in basic salaries for all employees
2. All Saturdays off
3. Family benfits equal to those obtained by the military and the police
4. Introduction of salary bonus levelling rising prices
5. Improve food supplies to the shops to the level of Silesia region
6. Transparency of awards and promotions
7. Election of a new Union Council repesenting working people's interests and defending them
8. Security warrant for all employees who organize and take part in workers rallies
9. People who represent the staff must be paticularly protected
10. General improvement of social and living conditions
11. MO and SB officers are not allowed to enter the Roundhouse
12. Staff representatives guarantee order and discipline
13. Early retirement at the age of 55 in traction teams
14. Until all these demands are satisfied, no one would return to work.
In that days, the strikers were firm and consequent, but peaceful .
The workers did not strive for confrontation, but asked for talks to
enable them present their demands, and fulfilling them. They wanted a
dialogue and to be treated as equal partners in it. Maybe it was the
reason why they were slowly obtaining their goals, and the authorities
were forced to step back and change their strategy towards the strikers.
The Authorities' Reaction
20 July strikes were organized in most Lublin industrial facilities.
The authorities were forced to take their position on the situation and
to reveal information about the strike to general public. Especially
due to the fact that the information about the Lublin strikes had
already spread to opposition circles in the country and abroad. Radio
auditions from Radio Free Europe, informing about the genesis and
course of events during the strikes in Lublin region, have survived to
this day. A contact for RFE was Jacek Kuroń. His wife and friends from
the editorial staff of ?Spotkania", who were staying in Paris then,
typed his phone relations from Poland and passed them to journalists
from western press. The press in Lublin region had the courage to
mention, at the most, about "breaks at work" in facilities such as :
WSK, FSC, LZNS, Agromet, at the same time informing about the
preparations to the celebration of bank holiday of the 22 July.
However, the authorities had to acknowledge the importance of these
"breaks" and on 19 July "Sztandar Ludu" published an announcement from
the Political Bureau of the Central Committeee (KC) of the Polish
United Workers' Party (PZPR) concerning the situation in Lublin, a
report from the Plenary Debate of Voivodship Committee (KW) of PZPR in
Lublin and the famous 1st secretary of KW of PZPR and the chairman of
Wojewódzka Rada Narodowa Władysław Kruk's "Appeal to the citizens of
Lublin" ( ?Apel do mieszkańców Lublina"). It was a fragment of the
appeal to the citizens of Lublin, which was postered around the city.
he information from Free Europe Radio, no Lublin newspaper used the
word "strike". They did not inform about the content of the strikers'
demands. The paradox of this situation was that a citizen of Lublin
could find out about the strike in a facility situted on his street
rather through Paris, London or Washington than from the local press.
Exactly at the same time when the strikes in Lublin were taking
place, Edward Gierek arived in Chełm. The aim of his journey - in which
he omitted Lublin - was a visit to a students' action ?Chełm- 80".
During the meeting with the student activists from SZSP
(Socjalistycznego Związku Studentów Polskich, The Socialist Polish
Students' Association), on 17 July the Central Committee of PZPR's 1st
Secretary avised them to independently contest reality... After
Gierek's leave, the 4th division of "Transbud" in Chełm went on strike.
In the meantime, the situation in Lublin was aggravating. Free
Europe Radio reported about arresting opposition members, and Władysław
Kruk convinced about the auhorities' "good will" towards the
dissatisfied workers. Finally, the Political Bureau (BP) accepted the
government's decisions concerning the realisation of the workers'
postulates and appointing a committee presided by a member of BP KC
PZPR's Press Bureau, the vice-president of the PRL cabinet, an MP from
Lublin, Mieczysław Jagielski. ?After the workers return to work, the
Committee will thoroughly consider the presented postulates and then
present them to the PRL government" - said the Press Bureau's
Anouncement . The authorities did not comment on the strikes, and the
media did not inform people neither about the negotiation process,
which resulted in at least partial meeting of the demands, nor about
the substance of the conflict.
The Meaning of Lublin July Strikes
The result of the Lublin July and later events at the coast (on 17
July workers from Gdańsk Shipyard presented the Board of Directors "21
Postulates") was the establishment of the Free National Trade Union
"Solidarity" (Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy ?Solidarność").
10 September 1980 an Interdepartamental Middle-Eastern Independent
Trade Union Establishing Committee (Międzyzakładowy Środkowowschodni
Komitet Założycielski Niezależnych Związków Zawodowych) was established
In addition to social, financial and supply issues,
the Lublin July resulted in important new experience and attitudes
among worker activists. The workers demand to get an official statement
of fulfilling their demands on paper was also an important fact. In
July 1980 in Lublin region the barier of fear was overcome and the fact
that it was possible to reach an agreement with the authorities without
bloodshed was shown.
Dąbrowski M., Lubelski lipiec 1980, Lublin 2000.
Prepared by: Dominika Majuk
The Lublin July Trail: see where the strikes took place!25th anniversary of Lublin July Strikes: wagon.lublin.pl
Mini-lectures: 1980- The Lublin July. Małgorzata Choma- Jusińska (IPN).