1980 - Mass strike in Poland

The 1980 mass strike in Poland was the most important movement of the working class since the end of the counter-revolution in 1968

Unions Against the Working Class - Preface (2005)

In the 19th century workers fought in the streets in order to defend their union organisations and to impose their right to exist on the ruling class. Today, the governments of the ruling class fight to prevent workers in struggle from going beyond the unions and to stop them leaving these organisations. Are the unions today organisations which defend the interests of the working class? Can the unions in our epoch prevent or even limit the permanent attack on the living conditions of the workers?

The international dimension of the workers' struggles in Poland

1) In the International Review n.20, we defined the coming decade of the 80s as “the years of truth”, where the outcome of the historical al­ternative presented by the capitalist crisis would, in large measure, be determined: either world war or proletarian revolution.

This perspective could hardly have been more clearly continued by events during the first year of the decade. The first half of the year, despite important social movements like the steel strike in Great Britain, was dominated by the considerable aggravation of inter-imperia­list tension following the invasion of Afgha­nistan. But the second half of the year was marked by an unprecedented intensification of proletarian struggles, which in Poland reached their highest point since the beginning of the historical resurgence of working class strug­gle in 1968.

Mass strikes in Poland 1980: The proletariat opens a new breach

A breach has been opened in history which will never be entirely closed again: before the eyes of the whole world the working class in Poland has broken through the iron curtain to join the class struggle of all workers. Like 1905 in Russia, this movement emerged from the depths of the proletariat; its class nature is unambiguous. Its resolutely working class voice, its broad base and historical dimension make the mass strike in Poland the most important event in class struggle since the beginning of the reawakening of the proletariat in 1967-68.

Poland, August 1980: The proletariat rediscovers the weapon of the mass strike

It is 25 years since the mass strike in Poland...

After the announcement of increases in meat prices workers responded in many plants with spontaneous strikes. On July 1st the workers of Tczew near Gdansk and the Warsaw suburb of Ursus downed tools. At Ursus, general assemblies were held, a strike committee was elected and common demands were put forward. During the following days the strikes continued to spread: Warsaw, Lodz, Gdansk...

Poland 1980: Lessons still valid for the struggles of the world proletariat

In Poland, twenty years ago, in the summer of 1980, there began the most important movement of the world proletariat’s struggle since the end of the revolutionary wave, which broke out during World War I and continued until the beginning of the 1920s. In today’s conditions, when the dominant ideology dismisses the idea that the working class even exists, let alone that it can act as a force in defence of its interests, it is essential for revolutionary organisations to remind workers of the most extensive outbreak of working class struggle for almost 80 years.

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