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Strike in the Party press printers
Jacek Kuroń Social activist
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Nadeszła jesień i w sklepach nie było już nic. Kobiety w ośrodkach włókniarskich stały całe noce, żeby rano iść do pracy, zostawiając zajętą kolejkę, po pracy biec znowu do kolejki. Ten typ strajków, taki jak w Żyrardowie – no to był po prostu przymus, przymus. Tam nie było mądrych. Na to nie było rady. A oprócz tego ewidentnie rzucano nam strajki. Taki w Olsztynie w drukarni strajk, który... no myśmy szukali formuły nacisku na władzę, która by jednocześnie nie była destruktywna ekonomicznie. I tak wymyśliliśmy strajk dwudniowy drukarni wydającej prasę partyjną. Po prostu partyjne gazety nie ukazały się w kraju i taki strajk był również w drukarni w Olsztynie. Z tym, że w momencie kiedy się skończył, myśmy w tym czasie byli akurat z kierownictwem związku na Śląsku – rozmawialiśmy z górnikami, przyszła wiadomość, że oni nagle nas zawiadomili, że oni strajkują dalej. Tam pojechał Onyszkiewicz, nic nie osiągnął. Oni ogłosili, że będą strajkować dalej, przy czym właściwie nie bardzo był powód tego strajku, że ich obrażała, obraziła Trybuna Ludu, mówiąc, że tam do jakiś rękoczynów doszło, a rękoczynów nie było. Pojechałem z pełnomocnictwami Wałęsy i z Bogdanem Lisem... pojechaliśmy tam do tej drukarni, tam trwał strajk okupacyjny. Był to strajk całej załogi, znaczy uczestniczyli w niej branżowcy, którzy w tym... którzy w tamtym strajku... którzy byli łamistrajkami przy strajku gazety partyjnej. Oni teraz strajkowali razem i tam odbyłem olbrzymi bój z tymi wszystkimi strajkującymi. Przeciw mnie występował szef branżowych związków z województwa, czyli członek egzekutywy Komitetu Wojewódzkiego Partii. O honorze załogi, że oni są tu całą załogą, a mnie zarzucał właśnie, że jestem politykier i politykuję. A ja mówiłem: "Ludzie, Wy tym strajkiem nie szkodzicie władzy, a jej pomagacie. Ona was potrzebuje, to dlaczego ona ma teraz ustąpić?" No ale strajk trwał jeszcze dwa tygodnie nim go wreszcie przerwano, no bo po prostu przerwano z klęską. Ta historia... tam prócz tego szefa branżowych związków z KW partii było jeszcze paru takich chłopaczków z tej branżówki drukarskiej, którzy właśnie tak mnie po życiorysie mi przypieprzali i kobiety. Te kobiety, kiedy ja do nich mówiłem, były absolutnie... przekonałem się już wielokrotnie tutaj w załogach kobiecych to tak wygląda – one słuchają swoich mężczyzn. Ja je przekonywałem, ja o tym wiem na pewno. Po czym podnosili się tamci, tamte chłopy ten komitet strajkowy, bo to załoga kobieca, męski komitet strajkowy i przegłosowywali baby za swoimi mężczyznami. No kogoś tu trzeba słuchać, jak one nic nie rozumieją z tego co się dzieje. I czuło się to narastające zmęczenie, zniechęcenie i rosnącą falę strajków. Ja wtedy... właściwie nie rosnącą falę strajków, tylko narzucanie nam strajków. Miałem takie – mówię czasem złośliwie, autozłośliwie, że więcej znacznie strajków zgasiłem niż wywołałem, niż zorganizowałem. Bo w tym czasie jeździłem od strajku do strajku. Taką klęskę miałem tylko jedną w Olsztynie. Pamiętam jak Geremek zadzwonił do Cioska, mówiąc, że ja też tego nie osiągnąłem, może tego, na to Ciosek z satysfakcją w głosie: "No, siły antysocjalistyczne znaczy nie mają wpływu", na co powiada Geremek: "Ale to mała satysfakcja dla rządu".

Autumn came and there was nothing left in the shops. The women in the textiles centres were queuing all night only so that in the morning, they could go to work but would first reserve their place in the queue, and then after work, they would come running back to take up their place again. The kind of strike we had in Żyrardów was unavoidable, unavoidable. No one there was wiser than the rest. There was nothing that could be done. In addition, we were clearly dealing with strikes that were being imposed on us. There was a strike in printers in Olsztyn. We'd been looking for a way of putting pressure on the government which would not have been economically destructive. And that's how we came up with the idea of a two-day strike in the printers that printed Party literature. The Party newspapers simply didn't appear across the country, and this kind of strike was held in printers in Olsztyn as well. When it ended, we were in a meeting with the union management in Silesia - we were talking with the miners when the news arrived, when they suddenly informed us that they were continuing the strike. Onyszkiewicz went to see them but he didn't achieve anything. They announced that they'd continue the strike although there wasn't really any reason for them to be striking except that they felt they'd been offended by Trybuna Ludu which had said there had been a punch-up when there hadn't been one. I went authorised by Wałęsa together with Bogdan Lis, we went to these printers where a sit-in strike was in progress. The whole workforce was striking which means that all the branch members were participating in it who had previously broken the Party newspaper strike. They were striking now, and I waged a huge battle with them all. The head of the district branch unions, in other words, an executive of the district Party committee, was against me. He was going on about the honour of the workforce and that they were all present while he accused me of being a political agitator playing at politics. I said, 'Listen all of you, you're not harming the authorities with this strikes, you're helping them! The authorities need you so why should they give in?' However, the strike continued for another two weeks before it was finally ended, and it ended in failure. Apart from this head of the branch unions of the Party district committee, there was a couple of young guys from this branch printing union who were laying into my life history, and there were the women. When I was talking to these women they were completely... I've learned that in the work teams made up of women, they listen to their menfolk. I did get through to them, that I'm certain of, after which those guys on the strike committee stood up, because although it was a female workforce, the strike committee was made up of men, and the women voted the way their men did and so the vote was lost. Well, they had to listen to someone if they didn't understand what was going on. You could feel this growing discouragement, fatigue and the increasing wave of strikes. In fact, it wasn't a growing wave of strikes but strikes that were being imposed on us. I say spitefully, directing that spite against myself, that I quelled more strikes than I started, than I organised. At this point, I was going from one strike to another. The only failure I had was that one in Olsztyn. I remember when Geremek rang Ciosek and told him that I hadn't succeeded either to which Ciosek replied in a satisfied tone, 'So, that means the antisocialist forces have no influence, then', to which Geremek replied, 'But that's of little comfort to the government.'

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: Jacek Petrycki Marcel Łoziński

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.

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.

Tags: Party, Żyrardów, Olsztyn, Silesia, Trybuna Ludu, Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Lech Wałęsa, Bogdan Lis, Bronisław Geremek, Stanisław Ciosek

Duration: 4 minutes, 5 seconds

Date story recorded: 1987

Date story went live: 12 June 2008