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The role of Robotnik during the strikes

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Setting up the worker's commission
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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Otóż, zaczął się strajk w Ursusie i tu... Właściwie to bardzo zabawne, bo tam się właśnie nic takiego nie zdarzyło. Podniesiono te ceny na wyroby garmażeryjne. I to się zbiegło z rewizją w przemyśle maszynowym, rewizją norm, Także takie dwie rzeczy się zbiegły. I w związku z tym drugiego lipca zaczął się strajk w Ursusie, wysunięto żądania płacowe i powołano Komisję Robotniczą. Myśmy to nadali i równocześnie, ponieważ przyszły do nas wiadomości jeszcze o jakimś strajku w dwóch innych zakładach w Polsce, wydaliśmy oświadczenie KOR-u, że o to właśnie idą strajki, że wzywamy, aby nie wychodzić z zakładu, aby być w zakładzie, aby powoływać komitety. Tu jakby powtórzono to moje hasło, które u początku działalności KOR-u w Myślach o Programie Działania ja je sformułowałem: "Nie podpalaj komitetu, zakładaj własne". Otóż wysuwać żądania, stać przy warsztacie, spokój – tak mniej więcej brzmiał ten nasz tekst, on był szerszy taki. Wydaliśmy to oświadczenie i zaczęły spływać pierwsze wiadomości o strajkach. To był lipiec, myśmy mieli z Gają wyjechać... wyjeżdżać. No, nie wyjechałem. Pojechała sama Gajka, która już była na ostatnich nogach, a po pewnym czasie okazało się, że już sam nie wyrobię, bo te strajki szły i coraz więcej dostawaliśmy informacji. Przede wszystkim nasza siatka pracowała na informację. To było niesłychanie ważne, mieliśmy już wtedy mnóstwo współpracowników w różnych zakładach pojedynczych, po... po kilku, wreszcie całe grupy jak w Ursusie, jak w stoczni, jak w parowozowni w Lublinie. Więc docierały do nas te informacje, ale zaczęli dzwonić do nas ludzie przygodni, którzy już się po prostu dowiedzieli się, że od nas idzie informacja.

The strike in Ursus began and... actually, it's quite funny because nothing really happened there. The price of delicatessen food was raised, and this coincided with a review in the machine industry, a review of the norms, and these two things coincided. Because of this, the strike in Ursus began on 2nd July, demands for pay increases were made and a worker's commission was set up. We broadcast this and, at the same time, since we were getting information about a strike in two other factories in Poland, we issued a statement by KOR saying strikes were imminent and we're calling on workers not to walk out, to remain in the factories and to set up committees. They repeated the motto that I had come up with in Thoughts on an Action Programme when KOR was just starting: don't burn the committee down, set up your own. Therefore, put forward your demands, don't leave your post, peace - that was more or less what our text said although it was a bit more expansive. We published this statement and then the first information began to reach us about strikes. This was July and Gaja and I were going to go away... Well, I didn't go anywhere. Gaja was totally exhausted and she went on her own. Soon after that, it became clear that I wasn't going to cope on my own because the strikes were breaking out and we were getting more and more information. Apart from anything else, our network was working to get information. This was incredibly important. We already had lots of people working with us from different individual factories. First, it was just a few but then there were whole groups like in Ursus, and in the shipyard and in the steam engine works in Lublin. So this information did reach us but then people began to ring us out of the blue because they'd simply found out that information was coming from us.

The late Polish activist, Jacek Kuroń (1934-2004), had an influential but turbulent political career, helping transform the political landscape of Poland. He was expelled from the communist party, arrested and incarcerated. He was also instrumental in setting up the Workers' Defence Committee (KOR) and later became a Minister of Labour and Social Policy.

Listeners: Marcel Łoziński Jacek Petrycki

Film director Marcel Łoziński was born in Paris in 1940. He graduated from the Film Directing Department of the National School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź in 1971. In 1994, he was nominated for an American Academy Award and a European Film Academy Award for the documentary, 89 mm from Europe. Since 1995, he has been a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Art and Science awarding Oscars. He lectured at the FEMIS film school and the School of Polish Culture of Warsaw University. He ran documentary film workshops in Marseilles. Marcel Łoziński currently lectures at Andrzej Wajda’s Master School for Film Directors. He also runs the Dragon Forum, a European documentary film workshop.

Cinematographer Jacek Petrycki was born in Poznań, Poland in 1948. He has worked extensively in Poland and throughout the world. His credits include, for Agniezka Holland, Provincial Actors (1979), Europe, Europe (1990), Shot in the Heart (2001) and Julie Walking Home (2002), for Krysztof Kieslowski numerous short films including Camera Buff (1980) and No End (1985). Other credits include Journey to the Sun (1998), directed by Jesim Ustaoglu, which won the Golden Camera 300 award at the International Film Camera Festival, Shooters (2000) and The Valley (1999), both directed by Dan Reed, Unforgiving (1993) and Betrayed (1995) by Clive Gordon both of which won the BAFTA for best factual photography. Jacek Petrycki is also a teacher and a filmmaker.

Tags: Ursus, Poland, KOR, Thoughts on Action Programme, Gaja Kuroń

Duration: 2 minutes, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008