Anna Walentynowicz: a symbol of August 1980
August 1980 marked the time when Poles got a taste of freedom owing to the determination and involvement of all those at the shipyard who were able to oppose the authorities and stand up for employee rights and the right for dignified life – it was the first step on the road to freedom, said Prime Minister Beata Szydło at the Wednesday ceremony organised at the monument to Anna Walentynowicz in Gdańsk.
Prime Minister Beata Szydło stressed that Anna Walentynowicz was one of the heroes of August 1980. Committed to assisting others, Walentynowicz became “Anna Solidarity” – a symbol.
This simple woman, a worker, had sufficient strength, courage and determination to encourage her colleagues to continue fighting and to keep up the strike even in times of doubt – said Prime Minister Beata Szydło. She added that Anna Walentynowicz should be regarded as a role model, as she never renounced the ideals of Solidarity and always strived to build community and to assist others.
During the ceremony organised at the monument to Anna Walentynowicz the Prime Minister stressed that it is
our duty to speak up for dignified life and remembrance for those who fought for Polish freedom.
It is very easy to gloss over the past events, to enjoy our freedom and to very often speak only about the heroes from the newspaper front-pages. It is more difficult to look after those heroes who nowadays very frequently have a sense of grievance and feel forgotten – said Prime Minister Beata Szydło.
An homage to the late President Lech Kaczyński
As part of the celebration of the 36th anniversary of August 1980 Agreements, the Head of Government also laid flowers at the plaque commemorating the late President Lech Kaczyński. The plaque is located at the facade of the building in Sopot where Lech Kaczyński – who specialised in labour law – worked for 15 years as an academic teacher at the University of Gdańsk. The plaque was unveiled in October 2013.
Main ceremonies related to the celebration of August 1980 Agreements in Gdańsk
Prime Minister Beata Szydło also participated in the commemoration of the 36th anniversary of the signature of August Agreements organised by the Independent Self-governing Labour Union “Solidarity”. President Andrzej Duda was also present at this ceremony.
The ceremony started with the meeting organised in the Health and Safety Hall of the Gdańsk Shipyard, where the agreement between the striking workers and the members of the government delegation was signed 36 years ago. The President of the Republic of Poland and the President of the National Commission of Independent Self-governing Trade Union “Solidarity” Piotr Duda delivered speeches during the meeting. The guests were greeted by Krzysztof Dośla, the Head of “Solidarity’s” Management Body for Gdańsk Region. During the meeting attended by Prime Minister Beata Szydło scholarships funded from the Scholarship Fund of the Independent Self-governing Labour Union “Solidarity” in Gdańsk were awarded to 25 youths.
The participants of the meeting marched from the Health and Safety Hall to the nearby gate no 2 of the Gdańsk Shipyard. There they sang the national anthem, attended by colour parties and the orchestra. Subsequently, the Gdańsk Metropolitan Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź led prayers. Finally, Prime Minister Beata Szydło laid flowers at the gate no 2.
From the shipyard gate the participants of the ceremony walked through the city streets to the St. Bridget’s Basilica, where a solemn Holy Mass concelebrated by Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Głódź was held to mark the end of the commemoration of the 36th anniversary of August 1980 Agreements.
36 years from the signature of August Agreements
The signature of the agreements marked the beginning of the fall of communism in our country, and indirectly – the beginning of political changes in ot the European countries of the Communist bloc.
On 31 August 1980, following an 18-day long sit-in strike at Gdańsk Shipyard, after seven hundred working establishments from all over Poland decided to join the strikes and following eight days of difficult negotiations between the Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee and the government delegation with experts from both sides paved the way for the creation of “Solidarity” and marked the beginning of political changes in Poland.
On behalf of the Government Commission, the Gdańsk Agreement was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Mieczysław Jagielski. the Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee was represented by its President, Lech Wałęsa. By signing the agreement, the communist government approved creating new, independent, self-governing trade unions, the right to strike, building a monument to victims of December 1970, broadcasting Sunday masses in “Polskie Radio” (“Polish Radio”), limiting censorship, etc. They also obliged themselves to publish basic objectives of economic reform in a few months. To the dissatisfaction of many protesters, the agreements included a clause stating that new trade unions recognised the leading role of the PUWP in the State.