Solidarity (Polish trade union)

Solidarity (Polish trade union) (logo).png
Full nameIndependent Self-governing Trade Union "Solidarity"
Native nameNiezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy "Solidarność"
Founded17 September 1980; 38 years ago (1980-09-17)[1]
MembersAlmost 10 million at the end of the first year; over 400,000 in 2011[2] (680,000 in 2010)[3]
AffiliationITUC, ETUC, TUAC
Key peopleAnna Walentynowicz, Lech Wałęsa
Office location(in English)

Solidarity (Polish: Solidarność, pronounced [sɔlʲiˈdarnɔɕt͡ɕ] (About this soundlisten); full name: Independent Self-governing Labour Union "Solidarity"Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy "Solidarność" [ɲezaˈlɛʐnɨ samɔˈʐɔndnɨ ˈzvʲɔ̃zɛk zavɔˈdɔvɨ sɔlʲiˈdarnɔɕt͡ɕ]) is a Polish labour union that was founded on 17 September 1980 at the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa.[1] It was the first trade union in a Warsaw Pact country that was not controlled by a communist party. Its membership peaked at 10 million members at its September 1981 Congress,[2][3] which constituted one third of the total working-age population of Poland.[4]

In the 1980s, Solidarity was a broad anti-bureaucratic social movement, using the methods of civil resistance to advance the causes of workers' rights and social change.[5] The government attempted to destroy the union by imposing martial law in Poland, which lasted from December 1981 to July 1983 and was followed by several years of political repression from 8 October 1982, but in the end it was forced to negotiate with Solidarity. In the union's clandestine years, Pope John Paul II and the United States provided significant financial support, estimated to be as much as 50 million US dollars.[6]

The round table talks between the government and the Solidarity-led opposition led to semi-free elections in 1989. By the end of August, a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed. In December 1990, Wałęsa was elected President of Poland. Since then, Solidarity has become a more traditional liberal trade union. Its membership had dropped to 680,000 by 2010[3] and 400,000 by 2011.[2]


In the 1970s Poland's government raised food prices while wages stagnated. This and other stresses led to protests in 1976 and a subsequent government crackdown on dissent. The KOR, the ROPCIO and other groups began to form underground networks to monitor and oppose the government's behavior. Labour unions formed an important part of this network.[7] In 1979, the Polish economy shrank for the first time since World War II, by 2 percent. Foreign debt reached around $18 billion by 1980.[8]

Anna Walentynowicz was fired from the Gdańsk Shipyard on 7 August 1980, five months before she was due to retire, for participation in the illegal trade union. This management decision enraged the workers of the shipyard, who staged a strike action on 14 August defending Anna Walentynowicz and demanding her return. She and Alina Pienkowska transformed a strike over bread and butter issues into a solidarity strike in sympathy with strikes on other establishments.

Solidarity emerged on 31 August 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyard when the communist government of Poland signed the agreement allowing for its existence. On 17 September 1980, over twenty Inter-factory Founding Committees of free trade unions merged at the congress into one national organization NSZZ Solidarity.[4] It officially registered on 10 November 1980.[9]

Lech Wałęsa and others formed a broad anti-Soviet social movement ranging from people associated with the Catholic Church[10] to members of the anti-Soviet left. Solidarity advocated non-violence in its members' activities.[11][12][self-published source] In September 1981 Solidarity's first national congress elected Wałęsa as a president[9] and adopted a republican program, the "Self-governing Republic".[13] The government attempted to destroy the union with the martial law of 1981 and several years of repression, but in the end it had to start negotiating with the union.

Roundtable Talks between the government and Solidarity-led opposition led to semi-free elections in 1989. By the end of August a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed, and in December Tadeusz Mazowiecki was elected Prime Minister. Since 1989 Solidarity has become a more traditional trade union, and had relatively little impact on the political scene of Poland in the early 1990s. A political arm founded in 1996 as Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) won the parliamentary election in 1997, but lost the following 2001 election. Currently, as a political party Solidarity has little influence on modern Polish politics.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Solidarność
azərbaycanca: Solidarnost
Bân-lâm-gú: Solidarność
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Салідарнасьць (прафсаюз)
brezhoneg: Solidarność
català: Solidarność
Deutsch: Solidarność
euskara: Solidarność
français: Solidarność
hornjoserbsce: Solidarność
Bahasa Indonesia: Solidarność
italiano: Solidarność
Kiswahili: Solidarity
lietuvių: Solidarumas
Bahasa Melayu: Solidarność
Nederlands: Solidarność
नेपाल भाषा: सोलिड्यारिटी
português: Solidarność
română: Solidaritatea
sicilianu: Solidarność
slovenščina: Solidarność
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Solidarnost (sindikat)
Türkçe: Solidarność
Winaray: Solidaridad
吴语: 团结工会
中文: 團結工聯