President Lech Walesa, declaring in a New Year's Eve message Monday that "the time for marking time is over," appealed for unity among squabbling political forces as he tries to speed up reforms.
Walesa, whom critics accuse of dividing the Solidarity movement with a campaign that won him the presidency Dec. 9, called for embattled camps to work together again to help solve Poland's economic problems, which include a crushing $42 billion foreign debt and inefficient state-owned industry."In this difficult transitional period, we cannot afford to have political squabbles in the government," he said in a televised evening address from Gdansk, where he has set up a second presidential palace. "I would like all political forces to join the work, without giving up their identities."
But Walesa, in office barely a week, also faced his first major indication of labor unrest: a two-hour warning strike by railway workers demanding higher pay.
All trains were halted Monday in the southwestern region of Silesia and in Lublin, and about 70 percent of trains in the Poznan area in west-central Poland were idled.
The railway workers have threatened a general strike Friday if their demands are not met.