INTRODUCTION: The Polish Parliament (SEJM) passed a law on Wednesday (6 May), paving the way for legalisation of the Rural Solidarity independent trade union of private farmers.
SV EXT (January 81) People marching along road with Rural Solidarity banner.
SV INT Woman speaker addressing meeting of Rural Solidarity members. (3 SHOTS)
GV EXT Farm building in Czarnkow.
GV Tractor and woman hoeing ground.
SV Farmer throwing hay into cow byre and woman feeding cows. (3 SHOTS)
GV (May '81) MP in parliament. (2 SHOTS)
SV Prime Minister seated.
GV & SV MP speaking and newsmen shooting event. (3 SHOTS)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The Polish Parliament (SEJM) passed a law on Wednesday (6 May), paving the way for legalisation of the Rural Solidarity independent trade union of private farmers. The government had agreed to pass the law by Sunday (10 May), during negotiations last month, ending an eight-month struggle by leaders of Poland's 3-point-5 million private farmers for the same union rights as industrial workers.
SYNOPSIS: Eighty per cent of Poland's land is cultivated in small holdings by private farmers, and they had argued that their needs were neglected in favour of state farms and co-operatives. Government arguments that the creation of a private farmers' union would cause chaos and political anarchy were firmly opposed by Rural Solidarity campaigners.
The authorities eventually changed their minds after a major crisis in March, sparked off by a protest in favour of the farmers and after the Roman Catholic Church strongly supported the farmers' cause.
Wednesday's vote on Rural Solidarity gained almost unanimous approval from the Deputies. The legislation puts Rural Solidarity on the same footing as the Supreme Court to approve its charter.
The vote and the parliamentary question time which followed were televised live throughout Poland. The main legal argument against the creation of a private farmers' union was that they were employers and not employees. Now, the authorities say the farmers will be considered employees. That's in line with the arguments of the farmers who said that their contractual relationship with the state effectively made them employees, requiring them to sell part of their crop to the government. The SEJM also passed a law creating a basis for legislation of inter-union organisations, such as federation or joint commissions.