Greeted like heroes, some 4,000 workers ended their strike at the Lenin shipyard Thursday in compliance with terms for starting talks with the government on a revival of the outlawed Solidarity trade union.
Bells tolled from nearby St. Brigida Church, center of the worker movement, as the unshaven men, wearing their regular clothes, left through the main gates of the huge shipyard.
Meanwhile, reports said a police officer apparently shot and killed himself inside the huge Stalowa Wola steelworks in southeast Poland.
"Probably it was suicide due to pressure," said Interior Ministry spokesman Wojciech Garstka.
The official news agency PAP said, without details, talks ended at the steelworks, where Solidarity says some 10,000 workers were staging a sit-in.
"If the strike does not stop soon the authorities will put an end to it," government spokesman Jerzy Urban said.
Troops were ringing the steelworks.
Military and government officials have repeatedly warned since Monday that the strike at the steelworks, which produces steel for tanks and other heavy weaponry, must end because it jeopardized Poland's credibility as a Warsaw Pact ally.
In Gdansk, thousands of people lined the streets, some kissing workers and giving them flowers as they poured out at 2:25 p.m. (6:15 a.m. MDT), 25 minutes past the self-imposed deadline for ending the sit-in protest that began Aug. 23 as part of a nationwide strike wave.
Someone carried the two-yard wooden cross under which Solidarity leader Lech Walesa stood when he persuaded workers to stop the strike at a crucial rally in the morning.
The procession was led by joint strike committee leader Jacek Merkel, who will attend the round-table talks with the government, other strike leaders and parish priest Henryk Jankowski, a friend of Walesa.
The Solidarity founder was at the port of Gdansk to explain his deal with the government to other striking workers.
In Lenin shipyard, workers removed Solidarity banners and slogans an hour and a half before the deadline. Some work at the shipyard resumed at about 12.30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. MDT).
Riot police barred the side streets along the procession route as the workers walked toward St. Brigida, where a rally was scheduled for later in the afternoon.
At the morning rally, Walesa called on workers to show unity and denied he had betrayed them in his talks with the communist government.
Fighting to control the movement he founded in 1980, Walesa told some 600 workers at an outdoor rally just inside the shipyard that a promise for talks on Solidarity was all they could win.