The government, moving to quell Poland's worst unrest in years, took a first step Friday toward enacting a special powers law allowing authorities to ban protests and strikes and jail strikers for up to a year.
Catholic Church sources suggested the law could be a move toward declaring a state of emergency.In Krakow, thousands of defiant steelworkers striking for higher pay at the Lenin Foundry stayed off the job for the 11th day, undaunted by a massive police raid in which several of their leaders were arrested Thursday.
In Gdansk, where a strike by shipyard workers entered its fifth day, riot police rushed the main gate in a show of force but failed to frighten the strikers into a retreat, dissident sources in the Baltic Sea port said.
"They were in full gear and ran to the gate but the workers at the gate did not move," said Alojzy Szblewski, a leader of the strike committee at the Lenin Shipyard, where Solidarity was born amid massive labor unrest in 1980.
Solidarity founder Lech Walesa, an electrician at the yard who won the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize, was with the strikers. Their number had dwindled to about 1,500 from 2,500-3,000, a shipyard source said.
In Washington, the State Department said Friday the United States is not considering any economic sanctions against the Polish government, despite Thursday's crackdown on workers.
"We're not looking at sanctions. We are following the situation closely," said spokesman Charles Redman. "We hope that the Polish government will follow the approach of reconciliation and genuine dialogue."
He said the United States was ready to help with the country's economic recovery once a national dialogue is resumed, adding that "repressive measures can only retard this process."
The most serious labor unrest in Poland since 1980 began last week at the Lenin Foundry, where 12,000 workers went on strike to press for a 70 percent pay hike to compensate for steep increases in the cost of food and other goods in a government bid to overhaul the economy.
As the unrest spread, strikers broadened their demands to include the legalization of Solidarity, outlawed in 1982 after the government declared martial law.
Ruling Politburo member Mieczyslaw Rakowski Friday named Walesa, Solidarity spokesman Janusz Onyszkiewicz and union leader Jacek Kuron as troublemakers who had failed to offer concrete proposals to the government about how to remedy Poland's economic crisis. He said pressure for pay raises would result in uncontrollable inflation.
In Warsaw, a parliamentary advisory council approved by 203-10 a draft bill giving the communist regime special powers and sent it to the Communist Party-dominated parliament, which is expected to pass the measure next week.
The bill would ban strikes and protests, allow one-year jail sentences for strike participants and give Deputy Prime Minister Zdzislaw Sadowski the right to fire inefficient plant directors or other officials dealing with the economy.
Rakowski, head of the Socio-Economic Council, called the powers a "tool that will lift barriers in the implementation of the reforms." That was believed to mean hard-line communist directors who oppose reforms such as decentralization and increased private enterprise will be removed.
Rakowksi said Solidarity had incited strikes and accused the union of "planting a bomb under the reconstruction of socialism and aggravating the international situation."
Catholic Church sources indicated the law could be a step toward declaring a state of emergency in part or all of the country restricting civil liberties and permiting indefinite detentions.
"It will be a sort of emergency state in economy and if there are protests among the workers, a state of emergency may be declared," a church source said.
The leadership of Poland's communist unions, which legally are allowed to strike, issued a statement of protest saying the powers would "suspend the operation of the unions representing and defending the interests of the workers and their families."