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Jaruzelski Calls For Government Self-Criticism In Wave Of Strikes

August 28, 1988

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Communist Party officials criticized the government of Prime Minister Zbigniew Messner on Saturday as Poland’s leaders struggled to solve the economic problems that have bred widespread labor unrest.

Eleven strikes continued at mines, ports, shipyards and factories throughout Poland, but there were no reports of police attempts to dislodge the striking workers.

The Communist Party’s 230-member Central Committee met on Saturday and several delegates lambasted the government’s handling of Poland’s dire economic problems and the labor unrest.

Messner, prime minister since 1985, acknowledged the criticism in a speech in which he reviewed his government’s performance and stressed its plans to improve the economy, the state news agency PAP said.

In opening remarks to the party meeting earlier, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski said that the communist government would undertake a ″self-critical analysis″ of the problems behind the latest wave of strikes in Poland.

Messner, as head of the government, oversees the various ministries and is theoretically responsible for government performance. But ultimate power rests with the Communist Party led by Jaruzelski.

PAP said the party plenum would continue on Sunday.

On Saturday, the government was attacked by a series of committee members as ineffectual. Some of the sharpest criticism came from Politburo member Alfred Miodowicz, leader of the official trade union alliance OPZZ, which was set up after authorities crushed the Solidarity union in 1981.

″Nothing can explain the sluggishness in solving various problems, the failure to make progress,″ Miodowicz said, according to PAP. ″Hence, the so- determined voices demanding personal accountability.″

Aleksandra Koszada, a party member from a radio plant in Kutno, said, ″It is tragic that the conviction is becoming widespread that only strikes can prod our government into resolute action.

″The government’s ineptitude is responsible for many economic problems and wasted years,″ added Bogdan Borys, a metalworker from Czestochowa.

The attacks added strength to speculation that the plenum would lead to government changes, perhaps replacing Messner himself.

The meeting was held less than a day after the government offered to begin talking with workers, possibly including Solidarity leader Lech Walesa.

But speakers also railed against the strikes. ″They have an anarchy- generati ng, destructive character,″ said Politburo member Jozef Czyrek. ″They cannot be accepted.″

Jaruzelski denied that the party session was a direct result of the strikes. But he said the meeting would make a ″critical and self-critical analysis of the causes for the present tensions.″

Interior Minister Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak on Friday proposed unconditional talks with the striking workers.

″I have been authorized to promptly hold a meeting with representatives of various social and employee groups. I am not laying down any preconditions either concerning the subject matter of the talks or ... the participants,″ Kiszczak said on national television.

″Excellent,″ said Adam Michnik, a senior Solidarity adviser reached in Gdansk after Kiszczak’s speech. ″I believe this is the first serious step in the right direction.″

Striking workers at the Stalowa Wola steelworks in southeast Poland said they responded to the offer by empowering Walesa and the Catholic bishops to negotiate their demand of legalizing Solidarity.

Government spokesman Jerzy Urban, asked Saturday in a telephone interview if Kiszczak’s proposal would exclude Walesa, replied, ″No.″

″The proposal is directed at all who do not reject the existing legal and constitutional order,″ he added.

Solidarity, the first independent union in the Soviet bloc, was crushed during a wave of strikes in 1981, when marshal law was declared. The union was outlawed in 1982.

Walesa, who founded Solidarity in 1980, said Friday he was ready to talk to authorities at any time without any preconditions.

Workers at the striking 30 Years of People’s Poland mine in the southern city of Jastrzebie voluntarily abandoned their occupation strike at 7 p.m. Saturday because of a fire that started in the coal mine before the strike began Aug. 19.

Urban earlier said authorities might deploy police at the mine because of the underground fire. Until Saturday, striking miners remained inside the shaft, denying that the danger was critical.

Several dozen miners at the Moszczenica coal mine in Jastrzebie who had barricaded themselves in an underground shaft emerged at noon Saturday after talking to a priest, officials and activists said.

In recent days, the government has used a combination of limited force and propaganda against the strikers. Police have evicted some striking miners in the coal-rich Silesia region, as well as some transit workers from depots in the northwestern port of Szczecin.

Striking dockworkers in Szczecin said talks with management begun Saturday broke off without any results.

Jaruzelski said the Central Committee meeting would work out a program to improve people’s living standards and market stability, as well as to end Poland’s rising wage-price spiral.

″In short, what is needed is a brave turn,″ he said at the plenum, parts of which were televised.

Politburo member Wladyslaw Baka, a reformer in charge of economic poliy, said the Politburo had rejected a price freeze, but it plans other steps to curb 60 percent annual inflation and improve erratic supplies to the marketplace.

A special Parliament commission on the economy is scheduled Wednesday and the full Parliament is expected to meet shortly thereafter.

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