INTRODUCTION: In a surprise moved the Polish government on Thursday (5 February) gave in to workers' demands for the dismissal of allegedly corrupt officials in the southern province of Bielsko-Biala.
GV PAN Street scene in Bielsko-Biala TO buildings
SV Solidarity signs in window
SV ZOOM OUT FROM Sign TO closed buildings (2 shots)
SV People reading Solidarity notices in windows
CU PAN DOWN Building TO strike notices on door
SV PAN FROM Prams and pushchairs TO crowd outside buildings and people walking in streets
SV Parked buses
SV People queueing for taxis
SV INT Rzeszow government building
SV Leader of farmers' delegation Kopala Wil seated with farmers
CU Government official talking to farmers (3 shots)
(MONO) GV PAN FROM Church tower TO street scene in the city of Jelenia
GV Workers at Solidarity meeting (2 shots)
SV Government officials ZOOM INTO leader Jablouski
GV Workers demonstrating (4 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: In a surprise moved the Polish government on Thursday (5 February) gave in to workers' demands for the dismissal of allegedly corrupt officials in the southern province of Bielsko-Biala. The decision means an end to a ten-day general strike which crippled the province.
SYNOPSIS: The government also agreed to grant workers full holiday pay covering the strike period, this despite a stipulation that strikers receive only half pay. The moves are seen as further indication of division within the government on how to handle the independent union Solidarity, which has been putting forward demands considered by the authorities to be beyond the aims of the union as set out in its charter.
The breakthrough came after all-night negotiations which involved a government team headed by Local Affairs Minister Jozee Kepa. Solidarity leader Lech Walesa was joined by an envoy of Cardinal Stefan Wyzynski, a sign of the Church's influence since Poland's political and labour upheaval last summer. The settlement means a return to normality in Bielsko-Biala. Public transport was hit during the strike, a bonus for taxi drivers. A hundred and twenty factories and offices were shut down in the strike, including a huge Fiat car plant.
Here in Rzeszow, farmers are holding talks with government officials in an attempt to work out a better deal for them before they too take industrial action. The farmers are demanding the right to form a rural Solidarity union, but so far the government is not giving way. The Central Committee meets on Monday (9 February) to discuss the issue, and the Supreme Court will hand down its ruling on the farmers on Tuesday (10 February).
And an industrial crisis is looming here in the Jelenia Gora region, close to the Czech border. Workers are pressing for the replacement of local officials they say they can no longer trust, and have given the authorities until Monday (9 February) to meet their demands. They plan to call a general strike if they do not get their way. Solidarity leader Lech Walesa travelled to the area on Friday (6 February) to try to work out a compromise. Since last summer, more than half the provincial and partly bosses in Poland have lost their jobs, some as a result of direct worker pressure.