Poles are agreed: 'Let's get down to work together'
Without industrial peace and a great nationwide work effort the "last-chance government" of soldier-premier Wojciech Jaruzelski could turn out to be Poland's "lost chance."
So said a speaker at the special session of the Polish parliament that closed with a resolution envisaging special powers such as a two-month moratorium on strikes.
A subsequent sampling of Polish opinion that included some people in the Communist Party but mostly nonmembers who support Solidarity suggested general agreement.
At first the union's national committee suspected the government move was a threat to the right to strike won in last summer's stoppages.
This initial concern seemed prompted by a hasty first reading of the premier's somewhat ambiguous statement. It was, in fact, a realistically balanced presentation of a still critical economic and political situation and an appeal for union restraint backed up by a resolution from the Sejm (parliament).
Realistic, radical measures were necessary, he said, and the sooner they were applied, the sooner it might be possible to rescue the country from chaos.
Over the weekend, it was generally accepted that the premier has done no more than ask for a two-month cooling-off period during which, presumably, a new law on labor relations will be drafted.
Parliament duly declared its "support and trust" for the government's whole package, which includes appointment of a minister empowered to speed up reforms in economic management and a joint government-Solidarity commission to negotiate on all matters of concern to the union.
"We must tear down this formidable wall between us," the premier said, "and always find a platform for cooperation and collision-free agreement."
Against the background of a worsening food and economy situation, the planning minister, Vice-Premier Henryk Kisiel, gave a bleak report that supported General Jaruzelski's appeal.
Shopping, as the general said, has become "torture," with ever-longer lines and empty shelves. Meat rationing was introduced April 1 and is working only here and there.
Supplies in the shops, Mr. Kisiel said, are 8 percent lower than a year ago, and those had dropped sharply from 1979. This year, food purchases abroad will cost a massive sum in hard currencies at the same time that Poland must seek new credits to repay older ones. Its foreign debts are already estimated at some $ 27 billion.
Industrial production was 8 percent lower in December than in December 1979; between February and March it dropped another 3 percent.
Agriculture provides the one bright note. Farmers seems encouraged by substantial price hikes for their products and by signs that government resistance to their independent union is yielding to the need to stimulate agriculture.
But contracts between state agencies and the farmers are not yet convinced the government is at last "on their side."
At this still-delicate juncture, however, the country seems generally united in favor of moderation.
That applies to the great majority of Solidarity members. Their national chairman, Lech Walesa, has said as much publicly in reply to his militant vice-chairman, Andrzej Gwiazda, who charged him with "surrender" in last month's negotiations with the government.
"We gave a little, certainly," Walesa said in an open letter in Solidarity's weekly paper. "But there was no other way. Sometimes it is nece ssary to take a step back."