Polish strike was peaceful but ban may be in works
When it meets today, the Polish parliament is expected to consider legislating a ban on strikes. The call for such legislation was made by the Communist Party Central Committee two weeks ago. Had there been time for parliamentary action, the nationwide one-hour strike Oct. 28 might have brought the Solidarity union into direct conflict with the authorities.
But there was not, and the work stoppage passed without incident.
The strike, however, seemed to be somewhat less than complete: Shipyards, transport, mines, and numerous industrial plants across the country were mostly idled, but many workers elsewhere were content with a symbolic show of sympathy with the strike. Those involved in essential services as well as members of the so-called branch unions (salvaged from the old pro-government organization) presented a picture of normality.
Meanwhile, military teams were said to be active in urban areas and villages across the country, speeding up the movement of foodstuffs and other consumer items.
A report from western Poland supported one of Solidarity's standing complaints - that problems of distribution often cause the most acute and prolonged shortages. The officer in charge of one team was quoted as saying his men had found many examples of ''culpable'' official lags in moving supplies of various items.
Between the strike and Friday's parliamentary session ordinary Poles displayed their customary mix of stoicism and impatience. There was some hope that - since the strike had not made matters worse - both the authorities and the union might move away from the intransigent positions each has held thus far.
Some signs support this hope. The union's national leader, Lech Walesa, was reluctant to see the strike go ahead. He was outvoted and, once the decision was taken, he took a firm unity line.
But he also said he hoped this strike would be the last of its kind. He added a relatively conciliatory gesture to the government by again declaring his belief there is ''still room for cooperation.''
Similarly, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the new chief of the Communist Party who is also prime minister and defense minister, spoke again of proposals to expand the ''dimension of coalition'' in government. Apparently such proposals may be put before this session of parliament.
The next step will depend on how the Sejm responds to the party's demand that something be done to curb further strikes. Any move to outlaw any and all recourse to strike action would run into immediate opposition from Solidarity as a breach of last year's strike settlement.
General Jaruzelski has said that any such move would be taken ''for the time being.'' When the Central Committee met Oct. 28 (following the one-hour strike), the appeal he made to the nation suggested he will use the argument of national interest to secure industrial peace and spur food production.