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Rural Solidarity

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Title: Rural Solidarity  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 1980 in Poland, 1981 in Poland, 1981 warning strike in Poland, 1981 general strike in Bielsko-Biała, Bydgoszcz events
Collection: 1980 in Poland, Agrarian Politics, Solidarity (Polish Union Movement)
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Rural Solidarity

Rural Solidarity (full name Independent Self-governing Trade Union of Individual Farmers "Solidarity") is a trade union of

See also

  1. ^ The Eighties Club. The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
  2. ^ NBC Evening News for Tuesday, May 12, 1981
  3. ^ a b R.J. Crampton, Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century, page 372
  4. ^ Agrarian Policies in Communist Europe, page 63
  5. ^ Ivan T. Berend, An Economic History of Twentieth-Century Europe, page 156
  6. ^ The history of Poland, page 139
  7. ^ Sociologia Ruralis, volume 22, Issue 3-4
  8. ^ History of Poland, People's Republic, 1948-1969
  9. ^ a b US Intelligence and the Confrontation in Poland, page 92
  10. ^ Poland: A Chronology of Events November 1980 - February 1981
  11. ^ The Rise and Fall of the Brezhnev Doctrine, page 172
  12. ^ a b 25th Anniversary of the Rzeszow - Ustrzyki Agreement
  13. ^ a b TIME, Monday, February 02, 1981
  14. ^ Ewa Nalewajko, Political Parties and Agriculture in Poland
  15. ^ a b The Polish Revolution By Timothy Garton Ash, page 141
  16. ^ [1] A Force More Powerful By Peter Ackerman, Jack DuVall, page 155
  17. ^ Last victims of Stalinism in Poland, interview with Wieńczysław Nowacki


Rural Solidarity returned in 1989 (see: Polish Round Table Agreement), and has existed since then. Among its leaders, there are Gabriel Janowski, Artur Balazs, Roman Bartoszcze, and Roman Wierzbicki.

However, Rural Solidarity was not legalized until May 12, 1981, after another farmers strike, this time in Bydgoszcz, where it resulted in a major incident, which sparked off the 1981 warning strike in Poland. Its first leader became Jan Kulaj, and the union was banned on December 13, 1981 (see: Martial Law in Poland). Among those who supported restoration of the Rural Solidarity, was Pope John Paul II, who called for it during his 1987 visit to Poland, saying: "A Pope cannot remain quiet about this even if he were not a Pole".[18]

Legalization of Rural Solidarity

The Agreement was signed by Minister Kacala, who represented the Government, and Jozef Slisz, Jan Kulaj, Antoni Kopaczewski, Bogdan Lis and Lech Wałęsa. Due to its significance, it is sometimes called the "Constitution of the Polish Countryside".[17]

[16] The Rzeszów-Ustrzyki Agreement was signed in the night of February 18/19 (in Ustrzyki) and February 20 (in Rzeszów). The government, represented by Minister of Agriculture

At the beginning of 1981, peasants striking in Rzeszów joined forces with their comrades from Ustrzyki Dolne, who had been on strike since December 28, 1980, occupying the local government office. The strike in Ustrzyki became known across the country. In different locations in Poland, several strikes broke out (including a hunger strike in Świdnica[14]), and on February 18, 1981, negotiations began. The peasants were helped by such personalities, as Lech Wałęsa, Andrzej Gwiazda, Andrzej Stelmachowski and Jadwiga Staniszkis.[12] Also, among supporters of the peasants, was Primate Stefan Wyszyński, who on February 6, 1981, confirmed "the right of the farmers to found freely their own associations".[15]

Rzeszów-Ustrzyki Agreement

Other centers of farmers protests were also located in southeastern Poland, in the towns of Ustrzyki Dolne and Nowy Sącz, but Solidarity members had been evicted from occupied buildings there. It must be noticed that the Solidarity trade union, and its leaders, such as Lech Wałęsa, fully supported demands of it the peasants. As one Solidarity official said, "We got in touch with our people in all of the major factories around here and let them know that if the police interfered here there would be a general strike without further notice".[13]

[13] Southeastern part of Poland was the area in which individual farmers were very numerous and where position of the Roman Catholic Church was the strongest. Therefore, in early 1981, main center of farmers’ protests was established in the city of

Creation of the organization

As a result, tensions rose rise between the peasants and local governments across the country. [11] Supported by

On November 30, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Andrzej Kacala met with a group of 30 representatives of farmers' unions founding committees from the Warsaw, Lublin, Siedlce, Skierniewice, and Wałbrzych Voivodeships, as well as from the WrześniaKonin, Golub-DobrzyńKujawy, and the Holy Cross Mountains regions. The representatives informally called themselves Rural Solidarity.[10]

On September 24, 1980, representatives of Polish individual farmers submitted documents to the Warsaw Provincial Court for registration as Rural Solidarity. However, after one month, at the end of October, the court ruled that private farmers were self-employed and as such, were not entitled to organize their own labor union. The disappointed farmers turned to the Supreme Court.[9]

  • recognition of private farming as a lasting part of the national economy,
  • legal protection of inheritance of land.

In August 1980, workers of the Vladimir Lenin Gdańsk Shipyard began a strike, which resulted in creation of Solidarity (see: History of Solidarity). After this event, a group of farmers, gathered in the Farmers Self-Defence Committees decided to set up their own, parallel union called Rural Solidarity.[9] At that time, other similar farmers organizations emerged, such as Peasants Solidarity and Union of Agricultural Producers Solidarity. Their objectives were:

Origins of the Rural Solidarity

Preservation of individual agriculture was a key factor in future events. Nevertheless, forced collectivization of farmland had disastrous consequences, as Poland, traditionally a grain exporter, had to import food, including grain, to prevent famine.[8]

After the Polish October, Władysław Gomułka officially declared that private farms were part of the so-called "Polish road to Socialism" and the government gradually changed its stance. In the late 1950s, number of collective farms fell to 1 800, and Poland was the only country of the Soviet Bloc which tolerated private ownership of the arable land. In 1958, Moscow ordered the resumption of collectivization, but unlike her neighbors, Poland refused.[5] By 1960, collectivization in Poland was ended, never to be resumed,[6] and Engels' opinion that peasants would spontaneously create collective forms of agricultural production because of the threat of the big landed estates was not confirmed in Poland.[7]

After World War II, Poland became a communist country, a satellite of the Soviet Union. Since collective farming is a key component of communist notion of agriculture, in June 1948, the Polish United Workers' Party decided to begin the process. From the very beginning, compulsory collectivization faced strong resistance of Polish farmers, who did not want to give up their land. Despite using different methods of persuasion, the progress was slow.[4] By 1951, only 1% of arable land was collectivized, with some 23 000 farmers working there. Altogether, in that year there were some 2200 collective farms. Most of them were located in western and northern Poland, in the Recovered Territories, where population consisted of people resettled from former eastern borderlands of Poland.



  • Background 1
  • Origins of the Rural Solidarity 2
  • Creation of the organization 3
  • Rzeszów-Ustrzyki Agreement 4
  • Legalization of Rural Solidarity 5
  • References 6
  • See also 7

[3] and, strongly backed by the Catholic Church of Poland, it claimed to represent at least half of Poland's 3.2 million smallholders.[2][1]

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