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Coal Miners Strike, Hold Rallies Demanding Higher Wages

February 5, 1996

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ The Solidarity trade union sponsored a strike for higher wages that idled eight coal mines in southern Poland during morning shifts Monday.

The union also held rallies for some 220,000 workers at other mines in the southern coal mining district of Silesia, according to Adam Jawor, Solidarity’s spokesman in the city of Katowice.

The miners demand an additional bonus payment for 1995 work, as well as government guarantees that planned social security changes will not remove their right to retire after 25 years of work.

``Last year, increases in miners’ wages were 6 percent below the national average and we have to make up the difference before we talk about this year’s wages,″ Jawor said in a telephone interview.

Miners earn close to the national average pay, about 900 zlotys ($360) a month, excluding bonuses, Jawor said.

Jawor said the morning shift strikes would be held again on Tuesday, but there were no immediate plans to expand to more mining companies.

All eight mines targeted by the strike are owned by Nadwislanska Spolka Weglowaw, whose chairman, Jerzy Chowaniec, said meeting the strikers’ demands would ruin the company.

Jawor said that 80 percent of mine workers supported a strike when Solidarity conducted a vote on Friday. Talks with employers reached a deadlock last month.

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