Appendix: Solidarnosc's Program

—reprinted from Solidarity Sourcebook

The following is a slightly abridged edition of the program adopted by the first Solidarity national congress in October, 1981.

[Versions of the Solidarity program were published in Labor Focus on Eastern Europe, Vol. 5, Nos. 1-2, Spring 1982, and by the Polish Workers Solidarity Committee of Toronto. We've made use of both translations for the version presented here.]

Return to main document

I. Who We Are and What We Want

The independent, self-governing union Solidarity, which was born out of the 1980 strike, is the most powerful mass movement in the history of Poland. The movement began among workers in large industrial enterprises in various regions of the country, reaching its peak in August, 1980, on the Baltic Coast. In the space of a year, it has won over all segments of the working population: workers, peasants, intellectuals and craftsmen.

Our union sprang from the people's needs: from their suffering and disappointment, their hopes and desires. It is the product of a revolt by Polish society after three decades of political discrimination, economic exploitation, and the violation of human and civil rights. It is a protest against the existing form of power.

For none of us was it just a question of material conditions—although we did live badly, working hard, often for no purpose. History has taught us that there can be no bread without freedom. We also wanted justice, democracy, truth, freedom of opinion, a reconstructed republic—not just bread, butter and sausage. Since all the basic values had been trampled on, we could not hope to improve the situation unless they were restored. Economic protest was also social protest, and social protest was also moral protest. These movements did not appear out of the blue, but inherited the blood of the workers killed in Poznan in 1956 and the coastal towns in December, 1970. They also inherited the student revolt of 1968 and the suffering of the Radom and Ursus workers in 1976, as well as independent actions by workers, intellectuals and youth, the church's efforts to preserve values, and all Poland's struggles for human dignity. The union is the fruit of these struggles, and will remain faithful to them.

Our organization combines the features of a trade union and a broad social movement; it is this which gives us our strength and determines the importance of our role. Thanks to the existence of a powerful union organization, Polish society is no longer fragmented, disorganized and lost, but has recovered strength and hope. There is now the possibility of a real national renewal. Our union, representing the majority of workers in Poland, seeks to be and will become the driving force of this renewal.

Solidarity embraces many social currents, bringing together people of different political and religious views and different nationalities. What unites us is a revolt against injustice, abuses of power and monopolization of the right to speak and act in the name of the nation. What unites us is our protest against a state which treats the citizens as its own property. We reject the fact that, in conflicts with the state, the workers have no genuine means of defence against the "good will" of leaders who alone can decide the degree of freedom that should be accorded to their subjects. We are against the principle which consists in rewarding absolute political obedience instead of encouraging initiative and action. We are united in rejecting duplicity in public life and the squandering of the nation's hard work.

But we are not just a force of rejection. Our aim is to rebuild a just Poland.

Respect for the person must be the basis of action: the state must serve people instead of dominating them. The state organization must be at the service of society and not be monopolized by a single political party. The state must really belong to the whole nation. Labor is made for people and finds its meaning when it corresponds to human needs.

Our national renewal must be based upon a proper reordering of these objectives. In determining its activity, Solidarity turns to the values of Christian ethics, our national working-class tradition, and the democratic tradition of the labor world. John Paul II's encyclical on human labor is a fresh source of encouragement. As a mass organization of the working people, Solidarity is also a movement for the moral rebirth of the people.

We believe that people's power is a principle that we do not have the right to abandon. But it does not mean the power of a group which places itself above society, arrogating to itself the right to define and represent the interests of society. Society must have the right to speak aloud, to express the range of social and political views. Society must be able to organize itself in such a way as to ensure a just distribution of the nation's material and spiritual wealth and a blossoming of all creative forces. We seek a true socialization of our government and state administration. For this reason our objective is a self-governing Poland.

We hold dear the idea of freedom and total independence. We shall support everything which strengthens the sovereignty of our nation and state, everything which furthers the development of national culture and knowledge of our historical legacy. We believe that our national identity must be fully respected.

The union formed itself and acts under difficult conditions, following a path that has never been taken before. Those who join us are concerned to solve the great problems facing Poland. Our strength and authority is such that people expect us to help in every field of life. We are compelled to fight for the existence of our union, to organize at every level, and to learn, often through our own mistakes, how we should act and struggle in pursuit of our aims.

Our program reflects the desires and aspirations of Polish society. It seeks to fulfil distant objectives through the solution of present-day problems.

II. The Union in the Country's Present Situation

The emergence of Solidarity as a mass movement has definitely changed the country's situation. It has become possible to set up new, independent social institutions, or to make independent those which have been subordinated to the state. The existence of independent organizations of power should be regarded as the most important factor in changing Poland's social and political relations.

There has been a change in the way power is exercised. The authorities should have come to terms with the will of society and accept its control, in conformity with the Gdansk, Szczecin and Jastrzebie agreements. There should have been a reform of the economy, the state and its various institutions. We had the right to hope that the state would carry out these changes.

The present system of government, based on an all-powerful central party and state institutions, has brought the country to ruin. The brakes have been applied to change for more than just one year, although it is no longer possible to go on ruling in the old way. The situation is growing worse, and we are moving toward catastrophe with seven-league boots. Nowhere in Europe has the economic collapse reached such proportions since World War II. Tired and disappointed though it may be, society has shown a great deal of patience and determination during the last year. In the end, however, it is to be feared that exhaustion and impatience will become a blind, destructive force or plunge us into despair. We do not have the right, as a society, to lose hope in the possibility of overcoming the crisis.

Faced with this national tragedy, Solidarity can no longer confine itself to pressuring the government to keep its promises. Society looks on us as the only guarantors of the agreements that have been signed. This is why the union considers that its main task is to take every possible short- and long-term action to save the country from bankruptcy, and society from poverty, despondency and self-destruction. The only way forward is to renew both state and economy through democratic social initiatives in every field.

We are fully aware that Polish society expects actions from us that will allow people to live in peace. The nation will not forgive a betrayal of the ideals for which Solidarity was created. Nor will it forgive actions, even the best intentioned, which lead to the spilling of blood and the material and spiritual destruction of the country. This awareness compels us to carry out our objectives in a gradual manner, so that each consecutive action obtains the support of society.

Our sense of responsibility compels us to look with clear eyes at the relationship of forces in Europe which resulted from the Second World War. Our aim is to perform our great labor of renewal without damaging international alliances; indeed, we seek to provide more solid guarantees for those alliances. The Polish nation, animated by a sense of its dignity, patriotism and traditions, will become a valuable partner from the moment when it consciously assumes its own commitments.

The country's present situation necessitates a two-sided program: immediate actions to see us through the difficult winter period; and, at the same time, a program of economic reform, which can no longer be postponed, of social politics and reconstruction of public life—a program which points toward a self-governed republic.

III. The Union, the Crisis and Economic Reform

The roots of the present crisis lie deep in the economic and political system, and the way in which the authorities, ignoring the needs of society, have blocked all reform projects and squandered huge foreign loans. The crisis began to worsen in the mid-seventies, reaching a climax last year as a result of the government's incapacity to promote major changes.

Faced with economic catastrophe, the government has announced a program to combat the crisis and restore economic stability. The union does not support this program, which only partially makes use of our economic resources and does not inspire the confidence of society. In our view, government decisions have to be made credible if there is to be a rapid solution to the crisis. This is why we demand social control over the government's anti-crisis measures. If they are to be credible, then people with some professional and social authority must be appointed to leadership positions in the national economy.

Thesis one: We demand that, at every level of leadership, a democratic, self-management reform should enable the new economic and social system to combine planning, autonomy and the market.

The union demands a reform that will abolish the privileges of the bureaucracy and make it impossible for them to reappear. The reform must encourage people to work and to show initiative, and not just remain a surface phenomenon. Since the reform will involve some social costs, the union must ensure that certain groups of the population are well protected.

1. The authoritarian direction of the economy, which makes rational development impossible, must be brought to an end. In this system, enormous economic power is concentrated in the party apparatus and the state bureaucracy. The structure of economic organization serving the command system must be broken up. It is necessary to separate the apparatus of economic administration from political power. Enterprise managers should no longer be dependent upon the ministry, and nor should important appointments fall under the party nomenklatura. The reform will only be successful if it results from the extensive activity of working groups, for which Solidarity's Network of Enterprise Commissions may serve as an example. The activity of this network signaled the start of a large-scale self-management movement.

2. A new economic structure must be built. In the organization of the economy, the basic unit will be a collectively managed social enterprise, represented by a workers' council and led by a director who shall be appointed with the council's help and subject to recall by the council. The social enterprise shall dispose of the national property entrusted to it, working in the interests of society and the enterprise itself. It shall apply economic calculation in the affairs of management. The state may influence enterprise activity through various regulations and economic instruments, prices, taxes, interest rates and so on.

3. It is necessary to sweep away the bureaucratic barriers which make it impossible for the market to operate. The central organs of economic administration should not limit enterprise activity or prescribe supplies and buyers for its output. Enterprises shall be able to operate freely on the internal market, except in fields where a licence is compulsory. International trade must be accessible to all enterprises. The union appreciates the importance of exports, which are of value to the country and to the workers. Consumers' associations and anti-monopoly legislation should ensure that enterprises do not carve out a privileged place in the market. A special law must be introduced to protect consumers' rights. The relationship between supply and demand must determine price levels.

4. The reform must socialize planning so that the central plan reflects the aspirations of society and is freely accepted by it. Public debates are therefore indispensable. It should be possible to bring forward plans of every kind, including those drafted by social or civil organizations. Access to comprehensive economic information is therefore absolutely essential, requiring social control over the central statistics board.

Thesis two: The approach of winter necessitates immediate and energetic action; the union declares that people of good will are available.

In the present state of the economy, this winter may be a dangerous time for the population. It is to be feared that the authorities are not able to face up to this danger. Social aid must be organized. Our union declares that people of good will are available.

1. Immediate action on the economy:

a) the union leadership will ask the government to communicate its program for the winter;
b) the union will call for an assurance that adequate heating and lighting will be available in both town and country, and that the market will be supplied with essential consumer items (warm clothing, food);
c) workers' organizations and their enterprise commissions should watch over the extra production of industrial and, above all, food products on free Saturdays; they should come to terms on the division of those commodities, directing them to the places most in need; and they should adjust production to the existing energy restrictions, reaching agreement with regional union leadership.

2. Social mutual aid:

The union should organize winter relief services, at both a local and enterprise level. Their aim should be: to assure, together with the scouts and the independent students association, supplies of food and coal to particularly vulnerable sections of the population; to organize housing-repair teams for such people and to protect them from the effects of winter; to use enterprise vehicles for school busing, doctors' calls, etc.; to help supply the town population with potatoes, vegetables and fruit; and to organize the distribution of aid from abroad. Enterprise relief services should help to solve supply problems, coordinating their activity at a district and regional level.

Thesis three: The defence of workers' living standards requires collective action against falling output.

The primary task facing us today is to halt the decline in output. It is necessary to improve supplies by using internal reserves and to increase the possibilities for importing raw materials and spare parts. This will depend on the effectiveness of our anti-crisis reform program, on an increase in exports, and on the securing of credits from both East and West.

In our view, the government should investigate the conditions under which Poland might join the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and present them to the public. At the same time, we should do everything possible to maximize output by using the country's existing resources.

1. New investment must be limited, and materials saved in this way should be used in existing enterprises.

2. It is necessary to use surplus stocks of materials, machinery and plant, making it easier for them to be sold abroad and selling them to private enterprises within Poland. Present restrictions on the activity of such enterprises must be lifted.

3. Given the particular importance of coal and other raw materials, it is essential to prioritize rapid growth in mining employment and technical equipment. The conditions must also be created for a future rise in output. Although the situation is very difficult in many regions of the country, priority must be given to food supplies for the mining areas. People should be encouraged to save coal, above all in the enterprises, but also at home.

4. In principle, the peasant economy must receive a large share of the means of production, especially agricultural tools and machinery, fertilizer and fodder (above all, of the high protein variety). This will permit higher food production, since the peasant economy is more efficient than the socialized sector.

5.Given the disastrous shortage of energy and raw materials, a number of factories will have to be closed in the coming months. Any decision must be based on the criteria of economic efficiency. Closures must be kept to the minimum necessary, and implemented only when there is no possibility of rationally altering production.

6. In several fields, the length of the working week does not at present crucially affect the volume of production. However, being aware of the requirements of this crisis situation, we many forego demanding the introduction of more free Saturdays in 1982. If it is possible for overtime work to be performed on free Saturdays, any decision must depend on the wishes of the workforce.

7. During this crisis period, arms expenditures must be reduced to a strict minimum, and the resources made available should be used to increase output.

Thesis four: The union recognizes the need for a restored market equilibrium in the framework of an effective anti-crisis program that will involve a national reform and protect the weakest sections of the population.

The main way in which the market equilibrium will be restored is through an increase in the production and supply of goods. However, this will not be enough to restore market equilibrium in the short run. It will also be necessary to reduce the demand for goods. This may be achieved by the following methods: a) a gradual rise in prices, together with the transitional retention of ration cards for major consumption items; b) a single round of price increases, together with the abolition of ration cards; c) a currency reform together with a reform of prices. A number of solutions and combinations are possible within this general framework. Some individual proposals have been presented by their authors for union members to consider (in an appendix); but other proposals are not ruled out.

Only if there is a simultaneous rise in production will these methods prove effective. If none of them is implemented, there will have to be a rationing system for all goods. But this would destroy the market equilibrium, inevitably leading to waste and artificial shortages, further swelling the bureaucracy and the black market, and removing the motivation for greater work-efficiency. Nor would it in any way protect the real purchasing power of the population.

After public discussion, society itself must choose one of these methods through a referendum. The union will demand that this happens. The sooner it takes place, the less will be the social costs of market stability.

Thesis five: The anti-crisis and the economic reform must be subject to the control of society.

A condition for the successful struggle against the crisis lies not only in drafting a program acceptable to society, but also in public control over the implementation of the program. The union hopes that such control will eventually be exercised by a new Sejm, national councils and workers' self-managing bodies.

However, public control institutions must be set up immediately. The experience of both the sixties and the seventies and of the most recent twelve months have taught us that the lack of public control leads to erroneous decisions and favors inaction and private interests. The union therefore proposes the creation of a Social Council for the National Economy, whose tasks would be to assess government economic policy, to examine the economic situation and relevant legislation, and to take initiatives in this field. The council must have the right to present draft legislation. Its deliberations should be made known to the public, and its members should be able to communicate with society through the mass media.

Thesis six: Although the union will protect everyone, it will take special care of the poorest sections.

We shall prioritize action to protect those whose lives are most seriously affected by the crisis. In conformity with the Gdansk Agreement, we shall demand measures in 1982 to introduce a cost-of-living supplement, to generalize the system of educational grants, to raise family allowances, and to introduce a minimum subsistence threshold as the basis for an incomes policy.

The union considers that subsidies should guarantee the purchasing power of the least well off. It is essential: that subsidies should be given to workers (and pensioners), as well as to their dependants; that the level of prices should proportionately determine all social benefits; that there should be an income-ceiling for social benefits, and an increase in the budget of child-care institutions, asylums and hospitals; that the union should adopt the principle of relating benefits to income.

Compensation must be paid for any rise in the price of an established list of goods and services. Price increases, as well as the availability and amount of benefits, must be agreed upon by the union.

We demand a major increase in social welfare. The union will seek to moderate the effects of inevitable price rises on the cost of everyday life: a) by checking on the price index of basic items; b) by encouraging social initiatives to control the quality and price of goods; and c) by calling for a special fund to restrain retail price rises on certain goods and services (milk, schoolbooks, children's clothing, etc.).

Thesis seven: Food supply is now the most important problem; ration coupons must be honored in practice, and food should be distributed under social control.

Given the shortage of the most essential food items, the union is compelled to demand a system of regulation which ensures that every citizen has the minimum necessary. At present various rationed items, especially meat, are not available in sufficient quantity, particularly since there is also a lack of substitutes (fish, dairy products).

The union demands energetic government action to ensure that rationed items are available in sufficient quantity on the market, and above all that incentives are provided to encourage peasants to deliver livestock and increase animal rearing.

Rations must increase in step with rising production and deliveries. Trade and the rationing system must improve in such a way as to enable citizens to shop for their rations without waiting in line.

The nation's food supply is a priority issue.

The union will not remain inactive in the face of the present supply situation. It is essential to create a nation-wide network of union commissions, together with a central coordinating body, which will concern themselves with the market and food supply situation. These commissions will cooperate with Rural Solidarity, opposing the bartering practices of large enterprises, which undermine our solidarity.

Thesis eight: The union will resist growing social inequalities among enterprises and regions.

The economic reform will carry a danger of great social and income inequality among enterprises and regions. We must create the conditions in which such inequalities can be minimized.

Our efforts will be aimed at: a) bringing social action and enterprise welfare activity under the responsibility of regional self-governing bodies; and b) creating a socially controlled national fund to transfer capital from one region to another and thereby to reduce inequalities.

The union is currently seeking to change the method of financing enterprise welfare activity, so that the allocation of social funds to the enterprise will depend on the size of its workforce rather than its total wage bill; to ensure that the local population has access to the enterprise's social provisions (kindergartens, cultural activity, transportation); and to form local committees in districts and neighborhoods to decide on the operation and development of social services....

[Sections IV and V of the Solidarity Program contain an extended discussion of labor protection and social service policy. The ten abridged points under these headings are:]

Thesis nine: The right to work must be guaranteed, and the wage system overhauled.

Thesis ten: Workers should have their health and safety ensured.

Thesis eleven: The right to work must be based on defence of the workers' common interests.

Thesis twelve: The union adopts all the initiatives contained in the constitution to satisfy the most pressing needs.

Thesis thirteen: The union defends the family's right to satisfy its needs and develop social awareness.

Thesis fourteen: The union will defend the rights of the elderly, disabled and severely ill.

Thesis fifteen: In view of the biological dangers to the nation, the protection of health is an area in which the union takes a special interest.

Thesis sixteen: The union fights for the effective protection of the natural environment.

Thesis seventeen: The union demands that the people's basic rights to housing are respected, and that an effort be made to improve habitation.

Thesis eighteen: The union should ensure that all workers have free time to raise their cultural level.

VI. The Self-Governed Republic

Thesis nineteen: Pluralism of social, political and cultural ideas must form the basis of democracy in the self-governed republic.

1. Public life in Poland requires deep reforms which should lead to the definitive establishment of self-government, democracy and pluralism. For this reason, we shall struggle both for a change in state structures and for the development of independent, self-governing institutions in every field of social life. Only such a course can guarantee that the institutions of public life are in harmony with human needs and the social and national aspirations of Poles. Such changes are also essential if the country is to find a way out of the economic crisis. We consider that pluralism, democracy and full enjoyment of constitutional rights provide the guarantee that the workers' efforts and sacrifices will not be wasted once again.

2. Our union is prepared to collaborate with the various social movements, particularly with other unions created since August, 1980, which belong to the broad Solidarity movement (the Union of Individual Farmers, the Artisans' Union, the Private Transport Drivers' Union), as well as with other independent, self-governed unions which current legislation prohibits from joining our movement. In fact, such legislation must also be changed. In Poland today, the freedom of trade union organization and the right to choose the union to which one belongs are of crucial importance to the workers. We therefore believe that the trade union law is our most precious asset: it must guarantee the freedoms mentioned above.

3. Our union maintains special links with the independent students' association and with independent youth movements like the Scouts. These organizations and associations are encountering many obstacles to their activity and registration. We believe it is necessary to pass a new law which will guarantee the complete freedom of association to citizens.

4. We hold that the principles of pluralism should apply to political life. Our union will assist and protect civil initiatives which seek to propose different socio-political and economic programs to society. But we will oppose any initiative by leaders of our union to set up political parties.

5. Faithful to the principles of pluralism, our union accepts the possibility of co-existence with other unions.

6. Unless there is a complete reform of penal law, and particularly of that part which can be used to repress civil rights, the principles of pluralism will always be threatened.

Thesis twenty: Genuine workers' self-management is the basis of the self-governing republic.

The system which ties political to economic power, based on continual party interference in the functioning of enterprises, is the main reason for the present crisis of the Polish economy. The so-called nomenklatura principle rules out any rational cadre promotion policy, rendering the millions of workers who do not belong to any party second-class citizens.

The only solution is to create workers' self-management committees which will give the real decision-making power to enterprise personnel. Our union demands that the self-management principle should be reintroduced into the cooperatives. It is essential to pass a new law protecting the cooperatives against interference by the state administration.

Thesis twenty-one: Regional self-government structures, legally and financially autonomous, should genuinely represent the interests of the local population.

The self-government of a regional structure is based on the principle of free elections. Everyone should be free to stand, with equal rights for all candidates. A wide election campaign should be organized, so that the various candidates can put forward their point of view. The forthcoming national council elections should be held in the same conditions.

Solidarity will insist on this point, drawing up by the end of December, 1981, a proposal for a new electoral system which will be presented to the Sejm, after consultation with our membership.

Regional self-government bodies should have the right to decide on all regional matters. They may be subject to control by the state administration, in conformity with the law. But such control should be confined to examination of the activity of such bodies in order to establish whether it is in conformity with the law. In the case of a dispute between a self-governing body and the state administration, the competent tribunal should issue a ruling. The regional self-government body should have the right to act on economic matters, and be able to collaborate with other self-governing bodies. In order that these aims may be fulfilled, the self-government bodies should have the status of a legal entity, with the right to acquire financial means through local taxation and so on.

The first congress of Solidarity instructs the national committee to draft a law on regional self-government along the above lines. This should be opened up for consultation and then presented to the Sejm. Solidarity will encourage any initiative by self-governing bodies which serves to resolve the problems bound up with the economic crisis.

Thesis twenty-two: The self-government bodies and structures must be represented at the highest levels of state power.

1. It is essential to grant the unions the right to legislative initiative.

2. We shall fight to restore supreme power to the Sejm. The new election system must give it a genuinely representative character.

3. We consider it useful to examine the case for a self-governing body at the highest level of state power. Its task would be to supervise the implementation of the economic reform program, as well as the activity of regional self-government bodies.

Thesis twenty-three: The system must guarantee basic civic freedoms and respect the principles of equality before the law for all citizens and public institutions.

This necessitates:

1. Respect for the principles and commitments emanating from the international conventions ratified by Poland, and from the Universal Charter of Human Rights. In particular, ratification of the optional protocol to the Universal Charter of Human Rights—which provides for international supervision of the charter's practical application—will furnish in our eyes the necessary guarantee.

2. Explicit mention in the constitution of the principle of equality of all citizens, regardless of their convictions, ideas and political affiliation.

3. Subordinating all elements of public life, including political and social organizations, to the law. It is therefore necessary to change the constitutional enactments concerning the legal status of those organizations and to unambiguously define their legal position vis-a-vis the Sejm and other bodies of the state administration.

4. The creation of an independent Constitutional Court (or of an equivalent chamber within the Supreme Court), which will rule on the constitutionality of legislation and on the legality of other rights and decrees. The Constitutional Court should also check that Polish legislation is in conformity with the international rights of man.

5. A change to the law on public gatherings, associations and passports. (The passport law should express the right of everyone to freely choose their abode, even if it is abroad, and the right to return to Poland.) Any limitation of civil liberties must be subject to judicial control.

6. Abolition of secrecy in public life, and a guarantee that all citizens have access to state documents. Any decision which tends to introduce secrecy must be precisely defined by law.

Thesis twenty-four: The administration of justice must be independent, and the repressive apparatus must be subject to social control.

In order that this may be achieved, it is essential:

1. To conduct a thorough reform of the judicial system, and to ensure scrupulous respect for its independence.

This can be guaranteed by:

a) Setting up completely self-governing bodies in the judiciary, which would have, inter alia, a decisive say in all judicial appointments and the appointment of the president of the court.

b) Observing the principle that the function of judge must not be combined with any other public service, especially service in political organizations, and that judges cannot be transferred or removed, except through disciplinary action or in case of illness.

These guarantees should be recorded in an amended Law on the System of General Courts and in the Law on the Supreme Court. These laws should also make it possible to recall a judge on the motion of the general assembly of judges within a transition period of one year of the law coming into force. Moreover, it is necessary for the Supreme Court to abolish the practice of appointing judges for a term.

c) Appointing lay assessors and members of the college for offences by direct election in order to increase society's role in the administration of justice.

2. To do away with the state's arbitrary powers in the economy. Economic disputes should fall under the normal judicial competence.

3. To ensure correct functioning of the judicial apparatus through:

a) The independence of the examining magistrate attached to a particular court, and the allocation to him of exclusive responsibility for pre-trial investigations and decisions on custody.

b) A reform of the public prosecutor's office, limiting his role to penal law cases, bringing him under the ministry of justice, and ensuring his independence in carrying out his functions.

c) The complete independence of lawyers, and measures to ensure that defence counsel has the right to attend preliminary hearings regardless of whether the body in charge of the case so approves.

d) The removal from police tribunals to proper courts of all cases potentially involving a custodial sentence, and ministry of justice control over the functioning of such tribunals.

4. To pass a law on the militia, limiting its role to the defence of public order and citizens' safety, with no interference in the field of politics. By failing to distinguish political activities which threaten public order from other such activities, the militia has committed a number of abuses. There must be a new law on the secret services, precisely defining their area of competence and providing for social control over their activity.

5. Within the prison system, it is necessary to define the situation of political prisoners, to establish a charter of rights and obligations for all detainees, and to bring the prison system under social control. The social readjustment centres should be disbanded.

6. No one may be forced to act against their convictions. Another, nonmilitary, form of public service should be allowed for conscientious objectors. The union will defend anyone persecuted for their trade union, political or social convictions.

Thesis twenty-five: In a Poland based on law, no one should be persecuted for their convictions, nor compelled to act against their conscience.

In conformity with the Gdansk Agreement, our union is prepared to defend anyone persecuted for their political convictions. We shall insist on implementation of the Warsaw Agreement concerning the release of political prisoners and the cessation of judicial procedures against people who have expressed opposition to the existing regime. If repression is used against union militants, we shall use every means in our power to defend them.

It is absolutely essential to amend the penal code and the code of penal procedure—especially those paragraphs which allow for action against people who express different views from those propagated by the party and government.

No one should be held for more than 24 hours without charge. Decisions on this matter should be taken by the examining magistrate, so that it no longer has a repressive character.

Thesis twenty-six: The people responsible for the ruination of the country should be prosecuted.

We demand that the circumstances of shooting and persecution of workers in Poznan in 1956 and in the maritime region in 1970 be clarified and the guilty be revealed. We also demand clarification of the militia's brutal actions against students in 1968 and against the people of Radom and Ursus in 1976. This demand also applies to the perpetrators of the Bydgoszcz provocation. The persons guilty of violations of the rule of law should bear the penal and disciplinary consequences provided by the law.

The same procedure should be instituted against those who, by their actions between 1970 and 1980, have brought the country to economic ruin. It should spare no one, including those who occupy the highest functions in the party and government.

The principle of equality before the law, an elementary sense of justice, and the need to give concrete reality to the changes that have begun oblige the union to insist categorically on this point. If legal proceedings have not begun by December 1, the national committee will convoke a people's tribunal to hold a public trial and render a verdict.

Thesis twenty-seven: The younger generation ought to have favorable conditions for its physical, mental and moral development...

Thesis twenty-eight: Culture and education should be accessible to all...

Thesis twenty-nine: The union will assist and protect every independent initiative for self-management in culture and education...

Thesis thirty: The union will support the freedom of scientific research and the self-management of scientific institutions...

Thesis thirty-one: The union will fight against lies in every field of life, for our society wishes and has the right to live in truth.

To speak and write the truth is essential for the development of social awareness and the safeguarding of our national identity. To construct a better future, it is necessary to know the truth of the present.

1. We consider media censorship to be an evil which the present situation alone obliges us to accept temporarily. We do not accept censorship in science and art. Censorship cannot limit the people's right to know its own history and its literature. We will combat every abuse of censorship.

2. The most dangerous tool of falsehood is the language of propaganda, which debases the way we express our thoughts and feelings. The union will struggle for the purity of our language as a means of greater understanding among citizens.

3. The union will support the development of independent publications as one of the ways of struggling against censorship.

4. The effects of censorship on our culture and history are catastrophic. The union commits itself to struggle for the restoration of truth in these areas.

5. One means of propagating the truth is our own union literature. We will publish the news that is eliminated or falsified in state publications.

6. The union will support war veterans in their attempt to shed light on our history and to recognize the merits of those who consecrated their lives to the freedom and independence of Poland.

Thesis thirty-two: The media are the property of society. They ought therefore to serve it and be controlled by it.

Our union's struggle for access to the media is carried on in the interests of the whole population. The union demands respect for the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech expressed in the constitution. Hence:

1. The union considers as inadmissible the jamming of foreign broadcasts, the prohibition of literature which expresses a viewpoint other than the official one, the destruction of our posters, etc.

2. The union will participate in preparing the draft law on information, which should include all the means of social communication. The congress instructs the union's authorities to decisively support the socially accepted draft law.

3. The union demands respect for the right of citizens and their organizations to set up publishing houses and to have free access to radio and television. The allocation of paper, printing facilities and broadcasting time must be subject to social control.

4. The union is opposed to any form of information monopoly. The union demands an end to the state administration's unconstitutional monopoly over radio and television, as well as a change in the law of 1960 which established the radio and television committee. The union calls for an organ of social control over radio and television, comprising representatives of government, political parties, unions, religious and social organizations, intellectuals and radio and television staff. This organ should have the final say on programs.

5. So far, our efforts to obtain the right to broadcasting time have been inadequate. We therefore demand the fastest possible application of the agreement ratified by the national committee of Solidarity, and the creation of autonomous Solidarity editorial committees in the central and regional structures of radio and television.

6. The union will protect its members employed in radio, television and the press, supporting journalists who respect the principle of truthful information. The union recognizes the right of editorial staff to appoint their chief editor. The union will support the Association of Polish Journalists in its efforts to protect the ethics of their profession.

7. The union will create agencies for news, photos, cinema and press.

8. It will establish an information committee attached to the national committee.

9. In conformity with Article 33, Section 2, of the constitution, the union demands that it be able to open its own radio station.

10. In the struggle for access to the mass media, the union will use all the means provided for by its statutes.

VII. Our Union

The union's life is based on the principle of democracy, which involves submission to the will of the majority, while maintaining respect for the ideas of the minority. Acceptance of decisions taken by union leaders in a democratic manner is a guarantee of unity in action.

The statutes are the basic document which determines the democratic functioning of the union. In practice, we recognize that an action not proscribed by the statutes is admissable—this allows union life to be enriched by new forms of action. In adopting a tolerant attitude towards different points of view, however, union leaders and all members should resolutely combat any breach of the statutes. Democracy in internal life, discipline in action, and the honesty of union members are the guarantees of the union's strength.

Thesis thirty-three: Members of our union have the right to express their views and wishes without constraint, and to organize freely for the achievements of common goals.

The effectiveness of union action depends on the various links between its members which augment the means and forms of struggle, ensuring the authenticity of our movement and its participation in the functioning of society. The creation of such links requires a free exchange of ideas and agreement on positions.

1. The regions

Links between rank-and-file members are created at the level of enterprise branches; these branches then come together at the regional level, in accordance with the principles laid down in the statutes. The demarcation of regions should take place democratically under the control of the national committee, so that they coincide as far as possible with territorial administrative divisions. We must attempt to create regions that are strong enough to give structural and technical support to all the enterprise branches. We must avoid fragmentation of administrative units, because this restricts the union's effectiveness and influence vis-a-vis the authorities.

2. Intermediate links

The practical life of the union has given rise to various intermediate links between enterprise branches and regional leaderships; the union leadership should assist such links by organizational, financial and technical means. The principal task of intermediate bodies is to assist enterprise commissions in the area of information and advice, and in the creation and development of centres of union life; they should also defend the interests of the population at the local level, and exert pressure on the administrative organs of power.

3. Occupational branches, occupational sectors and others

Union branches should assist one another and complement the actions of the union leadership in defending the interests of the different groups of workers and union members, without harming the interests of other groups.

The main tasks of the branch are: to initiate and coordinate activity dealing with the specific problems of their occupational sector, and especially to conclude common agreements; to represent the interests of a particular group in the union; to undertake actions at the level of the administration and the state, in agreement with the union.

The experience we have acquired demonstrates that broader representation of union members assists the leadership to resolve problems.

4. Agreements

Agreements between enterprise commissions and between different groups of union members take place outside the organizational forms prescribed in the statutes, thereby enlarging the scope for initiative and giving the opportunity to bring principles to life. In helping these different agreements to be concluded, union leaders should not assume the role of organizers.

5. The means of expression and the formation of opinion

The principal method is to use the union's information system in such a way as to popularize, without falsification, its goals and methods of action, as well as its position on social, economic and political problems. The union leadership must therefore pay particular attention to technical and material organization, the content of information, and working conditions in the information services. It is essential to improve our information network so that we can compete with the "party-state" broadcasting monopoly.

The most important tasks in this area are:

a) to increase the print run of the weekly Solidarnosc to about a million;

b) to create a national daily;

c) to publish regional periodicals as far as possible;

d) to publish an internal daily and weekly in each region;

e) to create the necessary conditions for the development of a national news and publicity system (daily information service, collection of journalistic material) by relying on the existing centres and on the extension of regional information offices;

f) to improve the information service in the regions;

g) to build libraries attached to the regional and enterprise commissions.

At the moment, the news agencies of the press and of Solidarnosc tend to be self-financing. The union fights for the freedom of expression, and it ought to apply the same principle in its own information media. Thus the leading bodies of the union, to whom the editors of the dailies and periodicals are responsible, should not interfere in this work. They should give them the greatest liberty, except during periods of definite danger for the union (protest actions, strike mobilizations).

The teaching work carried out by the popular universities is indispensable to the union. The purpose of these universities is to spread knowledge without falsification, to develop the understanding of militants, to raise their civic consciousness, to promote social activity and self-education. The popular universities should diversify their methods to include courses, apprenticeships, seminars, initiation clubs, lectures and publications.

This should make it possible for them to reach all social groups, especially in the enterprises. While maintaining a diversity of programs and methods, the popular universities will maintain contact with one another for the exchange of experience and information. Their activities will be financed by the regional committees and enterprise commissions. Alongside the education of public opinion, the principal task of the education and information services is to link union members both with one another and with the leadership and union agencies. Such links will create a diversity of ideas in our organization, while maintaining unity in action.

Thesis thirty-four: The decisions and actions of union bodies should be based on a real knowledge of membership views and wishes.

The union's members should have a determining influence on leadership actions. This is achieved by means of elections and by the expression of opinion on all questions affecting the union. The free circulation of information and the transparency of union life are necessary in order to educate public opinion.

I. The decisions and actions of the union leadership

When the union leadership takes a decision, it should follow the position of the majority. To ensure the transparency of union life, the leaders and the commissions should, at every level, inform the members of their work by publishing all the documents and texts concerning all official discussions and negotiations.

National and regional leaders have a duty to work in common with the socio-occupational working groups and with the sectors and occupational branches. Leading members of the union have a duty to meet regularly with those who elected them.

2. The organization of work around the program

Union leaders should respect the regular functioning of democratic representation, which can be ensured by knowing the opinion of the greatest possible number of union members.

The circulation and synthesization of views can best be achieved by work around the program. Special groups, composed of union militants and experts, should be attached to national, regional and enterprise commissions for the study of a particular theme (e.g., wages, working conditions).

At the same time, it is essential to create and develop socio-occupational working groups with the task of preparing reports and programs for the union. These centres should function in an independent manner, under the control of the program council, and should be composed of militants with authority, scientists and other members designated by the leadership. Basing themselves on the demands and ideas communicated by each enterprise organization, and on the materials provided by the socio-occupational working groups, the program commissions should then formulate the questions to be addressed to the members of the union.

Having synthesized the results, these commissions should then: keep the union leadership informed about the strength of different opinions and the importance which union members give to different problems; formulate proposals concerning union information and propaganda; draw up a program to be discussed by the representative organs.

If it is organized in this way, work around the program should qualitatively improve the drafts and encourage enterprise branches to think about the program.

3. The study of membership views in the enterprise

It is also very important to conduct polls in order to find out what union members are thinking in the enterprises, the regions and the union as a whole. To carry out such surveys we must appeal to the socio-occupational working groups. This type of enquiry is indispensable for finding out correctly and in detail what union members think on the essential questions; this will determine the correctness and speed of decisions and strengthen the union's position in negotiations.

4. Direct democracy

The union should adopt certain forms of direct democracy in addition to the forms of representative democracy prescribed in the statutes. The referendum merits special attention, not only because of its intrinsic importance, but above all because of the weight of the decisions or guidelines which come out of a referendum. The referendum can be used at different levels, but there must always be a great deal of thought before it is used at the national level. The national committee decides whether to organize a national referendum.

A referendum should be preceded by an information campaign presenting the different positions and allowing collective discussion around the questions posed. Union leaders who would like to ascertain members' views before taking a decision should always specify whose opinion they wish to know and how it should be discovered. One must proceed honestly in seeking the support of members' views.

Thesis thirty-five:

1. Negotiations and agreements are the principal means for defending the interests of the workers and citizens belonging to the union. But if this method fails we must have recourse to forms of protest.

In seeking to achieve union demands, the leadership should first use means which do not have a negative effect on social peace. The first step is to present suggestions and proposals to the administrative, economic and state bodies. If there is disagreement, we must use discussion to try to find ground for agreement. But in the present situation, if no account is taken of the union's opinion in matters which concern it, then the leadership will be obliged to modify its tactics.

2. The union leaders should negotiate with the competent economic, administrative and state bodies in serious situations of conflict.

In carrying out discussions, the union leadership should convoke negotiating groups and clearly define their mission and competence. Negotiating teams have the power to sign agreements to be later ratified by leading union bodies. The preparations for negotiation should include among other things: consultation with the union members concerned, presentation of the subject, goal and tactics, and an analysis of what is at stake. The union must insist that the negotiations be conducted openly. Experts, whose role is defined by the negotiating team, may also take part in the discussions.

It is imperative that every agreement should specify the duration, method and conditions of implementation accepted by both parties.

3. When attempts to negotiate fail, the union leadership may organize demonstrations and protest actions.

The character of such actions (economic/political) depends on the causes that have provoked them, not on their object. Every action must have a clear and precise goal and be carefully organized; it is likewise essential to allow for circumstances under which the action may be called off.

Mass actions may also take the form of demonstrations to reaffirm certain positions (pressure to begin or continue negotiations, or a demand that signed agreements should be carried out); they may also have a protest character (against decisions that are harmful, or against the failure to carry out commitments). Such actions should set a deadline for acceptance of their demands, and fix a date for precise action in the future.

If the warning is not heeded, then our actions must prove the determination and mobilization of the population behind the demands which have been put forward. Strikes and boycotts form part of this type of action. Strikes are above all actions of protest. Because of the economic losses which they entail, they ought to be the ultimate form of protest.

The leading bodies of the union should carefully prepare the protocols and the conduct of negotiations, as well as the actions of protest. At every level, the leadership must also prepare short-term and long-term action for confronting certain dangers, such as a state of emergency or aggression.

4. Decisions concerning the outcome of negotiations or protest actions, compromises and the terms of the final agreement should be taken only after an analysis of membership views.

During the course of the negotiations and protest actions, the union members involved should be regularly consulted. Leaders should inform the membership about the positions taken by the union negotiators and about partial results achieved. Information and propaganda actions should be addressed, especially during periods of tension, not only to union members but also to the entire population. Guided by the general interest, the union must strive to ensure that the goals which it seeks to attain are understood and accepted.

5. All members of the union are united by fundamental common goals; internal conflicts should be resolved by discussion leading to unity and not by administrative or disciplinary decisions.

Thesis thirty-six: Control and criticism of union bodies is the right and duty of every Solidarity member.

The activity of all union authorities is placed under permanent control. The reports of control commissions should be rapidly published and distributed in the union. All union members are free to criticize the leadership, either in the course of meetings or in the press. Those who are criticized have the right to reply.

Membership of representative bodies control the leadership by making use of the right of questioning and the vote of confidence. If there is a question, the answer must be given within a definite period. If it does not satisfy the questioner, then he or she may call for a vote of confidence. If the vote results in a decision of non-confidence then the leader or leading body must offer to resign. This may be refused—in which case a final solution may be found by appealing, if necessary, to a special commission. In conformity with the statutes, control over leadership activity is also exercised by the review commission. These bodies collect information, point out irregularities in procedure, indicate the means for remedying this type of situation, and prepare reports for the representative bodies.

VIII. The New Social Contract

Solidarity is the guarantor of the social accords of 1980, and demands that they be consistently put into practice. The only way to save the country is to realize the constitutional principle of the sovereignty of the nation. Our union establishes its program at a moment when the nation is threatened with catastrophe. We cannot remain in crisis. A way out must be found.

The anti-crisis agreement

The anti-crisis agreement should ensure the survival of society in the difficult winter months ahead. It must point out the direction to follow in order to emerge from the crisis. It should be the first text of collaboration between the state power and society.

Agreement on economic reform

Agreement on economic reform requires collaboration between the state power and society for a radical change in the existing economic order. The reform should give the leadership of enterprises to personnel within the economic system who will harmonize the laws of the market with planning. The hundreds of agreements signed by the government still remain only on paper. Promises made by the state to the working people should be honored.

Agreement for a self-governed republic

The agreement for a self-governed republic should provide the direction and means for a democratization of public life, of the Sejm, the political, territorial and economic authorities, the courts, national education, etc. Realization of this agreement will establish a just relationship between citizens and the state. The road to a self-governed republic is the only one which will make Poland internally strong, an equal partner with other nations.

The union considers the new social contract to be an indissoluble unity. The action program of Solidarity is above all a commitment by the union to the nation. We are confident that it will meet with the approval of the entire nation. No partisan, individual or group can consider itself to be above the nation.

We do not pretend to have a monopoly on the truth. We are ready for an honest and loyal dialogue, an exchange of ideas with the state power, a quest for just decisions which will better serve the country and the interests of working people and citizens. May this accord unite us around what is national, democratic and human in Poland; around those things which do not divide us.

Return to main document