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Solidarity

Solidarity with someone is willingness to give psychological and/or material support when he or she is in a difficult position.


Solidarity or Solidarnosc (in Polish - Solidarność) is a Polish trade union federation founded in September 1980, originally led by Lech Walesa.

The founding of Solidarity was an unprecedented event not only in Poland, ruled by one-party Communist regime, but also in the whole Eastern bloc. It meant a break in the hard-line stance of the Party which in another protest in 1970 had ended in bloodshed with dozens of people killed by machine gun fire and over 1,000 injured.

Two factors contributed to the initial success of the unions: it was backed by a group of intellectual dissidents (KOR) and it was based on the rules of non-violence.

The ideas of the Solidarity movement spread like wildfire throughout Poland; more and more new unions were formed and joined the federation. The program, although concerned with trade union matters, was universally regarded as the first step towards dismantling the Party monopoly.

The Rural Solidarity that was a union of farmers followed and was created in May 1981. By the end of 1981, Solidarity had nine million members. Using strikes and other industrial action, the union sought to block government initiatives. On December 13, 1981, the government leader Wojciech Jaruzelski started a crack-down on Solidarity, declaring martial law, suspending the union, and temporarily imprisoning most of its leaders. It took until the end of 1982 for martial law to be lifted.

Throughout the mid-1980s, Solidarity persisted solely as an underground organization, supported by the Church and the CIA. But by the late 1980s, Solidarity was sufficiently strong to frustrate Jaruzelski's attempts at reform, and nationwide strikes in 1988 forced the government to open a dialogue with Solidarity.

In April 1989, Solidarity was legalised and allowed to participate in the upcoming elections. In these limited elections union candidates won a striking victory. By the end of August a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed and in December Walesa was elected president, resigning from his post in Solidarity.

Since then, the organisation has become a more traditional trade union, but a political arm was founded in 1996 as Solidarity Electoral Action (now having a negligible political significance). Solidarity currently has around 1.5 million members.



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