At the main gate of Szczecin's sprawling, strikebound port, a steady stream of women pushing baby carriages and carrying buckets of food has replaced the normal caravan of rumbling trucks.
The wives of the longshoremen who went on strike Wednesday are visiting about 2,000 men holed up on the docks of this Baltic city on the Odra River near the East German border."We've got enough food stockpiled to last us a week," said a beaming worker in his late 20s.
Supporters of Solidarity, to which the men belong, carried bread and vegetables through gates festooned with the flags and banners of the outlawed independent union federation.
Shortly after the strike began, negotiations broke down between management and workers who remain steadfast in their demand that the government grant legal status to their union.
In 1981, the communist government arrested many Solidarity leaders in a military crackdown. Solidarity was outlawed in 1982.
Solidarity leaders said the harbor strike and a walkout by the city's transit workers arose from growing dissatisfaction with the policies of state-run unions and anger over Poland's deteriorating economy.
The strikes have idled port operations and brought city transit services almost to a standstill.
Poland's new wave of labor unrest began Tuesday, when coal miners at the July Manifesto mine in the southwestern declared an occupation strike.
The mood quickly spread to Szczecin, a city of 395,000 and the country's largest port city after Gdansk.
"The strike began spontaneously, when we got our paychecks last week," said Edward Radziewicz, a forklift operator who heads the Interfactory Strike Committee representing dock and transit workers. "It became very clear that we had no one to stand up for our interest and that we were on our own."
Workers said they had no faith in the official union's ability or desire to represent them and complained that rampant inflation has cutting into their buying power.
"The union represents management and its interest and not us," said a young dockworker who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A 50-year-old crane operator said he could barely make ends meet on his salary.
"After 30 years on the dock I get paid $67 a month. A black-and-white television costs $156 dollars. We got an 11 percent pay increase recently, but prices went up by more than 40 percent," he said.
Transit workers at a nearby bus depot had similar views.
"Reinstatement of Solidarity is the first step in setting up further talks," said Romuald Ziolkowski, head of the depot's strike committee. "We can negotiate wages later."
He said 1,800 transit workers were on strike and were posted at the depot's gates, which were blocked by buses.
Thousands of residents in outlying apartment complexes trudged Saturday past empty bus stops into town to shop. State-run food stores said sugar and flour were quickly disappearing from store shelves.
The run on staples indicated that residents were bracing for the possibility of more strikes and shortages.
City officials urged factory and tourist buses in service to aid stranded commuters. But the transit strike has been a boon for the city's taxi drivers.
"Business is flourishing," said one driver in downtown Szczecin.