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Solidarity Says Employees Who Stopped Work May Get Higher Pay

March 1, 1988

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Spokesmen for Solidarity said management promised to consider pay increases for employees of a railroad car repair plant who stopped work to protest price increases.

Solidarity’s National Executive Commission accused the communist government of ″alarming ineptness in the economic realm.″

Spokesmen for the outlawed independent labor federation in Wroclaw, a southwestern industrial city, said about 1,500 people joined the job action at the Railway Rolling Stock Repair plant - about half the work force. Plant officials declined comment.

A government spokesman denied such a large number of people participated, and said the stoppage ended when managers dispelled a misunderstanding about how the annual profit bonus would be paid.

It appeared to be the biggest work stoppage in Poland since the government imposed major price increases earlier in February.

Government spokesman Zbigniew Augustynowicz said plant workers were disturbed over profit-sharing. He said distribution of the annual bonus based on profits began last week but many workers found it too small.

About a third of the staff stopped work at various times Monday morning but resumed after plant officials explained how the bonus was calculated, he said.

Jozef Pinior, a Wroclaw leader of Solidarity, said about half the plant’s 3,000 workers downed tools at 9 a.m. in response to a Solidarity call.

Pinior said plant director Wojciech Zmyslony pleaded with workers to return to their jobs and said management would consider increasing monthly pay by the equivalent of $8 to $11.

Union members said Sunday plant workers were in a ″combative mood″ because of price increases imposed Feb. 1.

Besides claiming too much bonus money was going to managers, they said raises given to offset price increases were inadequate.

Prices of staple goods were increased 40 percent, with increases in school tuitions and energy prices set for March 1 and April 1, as part of an economic reform program aimed at reviving the economy.

In its statement Monday, the Solidarity National Executive Commission said: ″Drastic price increases have lowered the living standards of all society, pushing low-income groups to the level of subsistence.″

Union adviser Jacek Kuron read the statement, which accused police of tightening surveillance of commission members and said the number of activists jailed, ″often under criminal pretext,″ is growing.

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