Prime Minister Zbigniew Messner on Monday announced the resignation of his government, which had been under fire for its ineffectual handling of the nation's ailing economy.

The resignations come less than a month after Poland's most serious labor unrest in seven years began.The government has been criticized as sluggish in implementing a broad economic reform plan this year and for its handling of price hikes, which have resulted in annual inflation of 60 percent.

In a speech to parliament, Messner offered a defense of his government's performance but admitted to "mishaps," implicitly acknowledging that his government had lost public confidence.

It was not announced when a new government would be named, and it was possible that Messner or some of his ministers could be reappointed.

In Poland, the Communist Party, led by Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, is the actual seat of power and the party appoints the government through its majority in parliament.

The party has criticized the price-hike operation because wages, under pressure from workers, were allowed to rise faster than prices, wiping out any benefits to the economy from the higher prices.

The inflation sparked a wave of strikes in April. A second wave broke out in August, and ended only when authorities and Solidarity chairman Lech Walesa agreed on entering into broad-based discussions that could include the reinstatement of the banned free trade union movement.

Before Messner's speech, the Sejm, or parliament, heard a critical report from an extraordinary committee set up to monitor the government's performance in implementing economic reform.

Jaruzelski had recently distanced himself from Messner. At a Communist Party meeting Aug. 28, during the last strike wave, he criticized the government's performance and called on parliament to decide its future at this month's meeting.

Later, the official trade union alliance OPZZ passed a resolution calling for the government to resign.

On Sunday, Walesa told 50,000 pilgrims at a workers' Mass in the southern city of Czestochowa that the government is close to recognizing Solidarity, which was banned in a 1981 military crackdown that ended its 15-month heyday.

Walesa addressed hundreds of Solidarity delegations from across the country who converged on the Jasna Gora monastery for an annual pilgrimage of workers.

It was the first public address by Walesa since he announced Friday that Solidarity agreed to participate in talks on legalizing the union, which was banned in 1982.