In Warsaw, one senses official skepticism about opinion polls reflecting the nation's faith in Solidarity. But not here, the birthplace of the independent trade union .
Underneath the surface of law and order here is a deep and general insistence that the restoration of the ''suspended'' union is essential for genuine social peace.
This impression was confirmed in numerous conversations during a recent three-day visit. This writer was the first Western journalist allowed to make an independent trip to Gdansk since martial law was imposed.
The determination that Solidarity be restored enters every conversation, however casual.
The Communist Party knows it. That was obvious in a long and serious talk with Edward Kijek, the regional Communist Party secretary for ideology, and with party functionaries in the shipyard and port authority. All conveyed the impression they are conscious of the solid hold Solidarity still has on the hearts and minds of the great majority of Poles. There was much less effort to discredit the union.
Once talks with party officials were completed, I was free to roam and to talk with anyone. ''We shan't give you any guardian angels,'' Mr. Kijek said with a laugh.
This Baltic port city appears quiet and calm. Not much of martial law imposed Dec. 13 is visible here in a purely military sense. The soldiers have been taken off the streets. Only occasionally does one come into view.
Food stores look somewhat better than they have for a long time. US sanctions have compelled Polish fishing fleets to return to the Baltic. The first results are evident.
Queues are shorter, but the new prices for many items put them out of reach of the average Pole, who earns 7,000 to 8,000 zlotys ($80 to $100) a month. That barely covers basic living costs.
The towering cross commemorating the workers who fell in the 1970 riots is just about the only outward sign of the events and emotions that focused Polish and world attention on Gdansk in August 1980. The memorial was finally erected and dedicated a few months after the government accepted the new union.
Outside the shipyard, three policemen lounge on a bench near the memorial, paying no heed to people walking around it or adding fresh flowers at its base. The yard's own guards are at the gate.
Work seemed in full swing and order books were said to be full through 1984.
Although Zygmunt Jakubiak, the party secretary in the enterprise, was with me , the workers spoke bluntly.
They made it plain that the independent Solidarity is the only kind of union they are interested in.
A dozen workers I selected at random had a common reply to questions about their union and its leader, Lech Walesa. They want both back. Each said as much in a matter-of-fact way indicating the question was not open for discussion.
One who has worked in the yard 25 years and been a member of the party almost as long turned in his card after Dec. 13. The party had not done its job, he said tersely. His co-workers clearly agreed.
Party leaders here have had more credibility with workers and the public at large than have their counterparts in other provinces. But the party took a beating in the Baltic ports of Gdynia, Sopot, and Gdansk -- centers of maritime industry and postwar high-rise apartment blocks built around spired town halls and Gothic churches. Some statistics show the Communist Party's slippage in Gdansk:
* The Communist Party had 102,000 members here in August 1980; now it has 85, 000.
* Membership among shipyard workers dropped from 3,300 to 2,500.
* At the port, 1 in 4 of 6,500 workers were party members. Now, it is only 900.