Polish authorities, bowing to a firm demand by strike leaders, restored telephone communications between Gdansk and the rest of the country tonight in a move that was expected to clear the way for a resumption of negotiations on ending Poland's labor crisis.
Leaders of the committee representing workers in several hundred factories in the Gdansk region, the focal point of the Polish unrest, had voted unanimously today not to reopen talks with the newly formed government until telephone service was restored, a move promised by authorities Saturday. u
Poland's new prime minister, Jozef Pinkowski, had been expected to go to Gdansk today to resume negotiations in person, a reflection of official concern that something must be done swiftly to break the deadlock that has paralyzed much of Poland's industry for 11 days.
But negotiations did not resume today. Instead, with the reopening of telephone and Telex links cut by the government a week ago to isolate the strikers, it was expected that negotiations would start Tuesday.
Nonetheless, despite a purge yesterday of government officials held responsible by the ruling Communist Party Politburo for the country's economic distress, there was still no sign today of an imminent end to the strikes that are costing Poland tens of millions of dollars a day.
The initial response of the strikers to the leadership shake-up and promises of political and economic reforms was reserved. A communique issued today by the joint strike committee, which claims to be representing nearly 400 factories in the Gdansk region, had reiterated its demand for the full restoration of communications as a condition for talks with the government.
Deputy Prime Minister Mieczyslaw Jagielski promised the strikers Saturday that communications between Gdansk and the rest of the country would be restored -- but until tonight they remained virtually nonexistent.
In Warsaw, the dissident Workers' Defense Committee said it had no confidence in the new government as long as people were still detained illegally without trial. Ten dissidents, including the committee's spokesman, Jacek Kuron, have been detained for six days.
Asked about the shakeup in the upper reaches of the government and Communist Party, the leader of the strikers in Gdansk's Lenin Shipyard, Lech Walesa, said, "I don't know these new people. Our problem is free trade unions. It is not important for us who will meet with us."
The unrest began July 1 when the government raised the price of meat, and the initial demands of the strikers were economic.
But as the government was beginning to meet the demands with better salaries and benefits, the strikers made bolder political demands including the abolition of censorship, the release of political prisoners and the formation of completely free trade unions that are independent of Communist Party influence.
In his address to the Central Committee Sunday, Communist Party leader Edward Gierek promised the strikers fresh elections in the official trade unions with an unlimited number of candidates.
The strikers' leaders, however, have given some signs that they are prepared to moderate their demands. They have requested the assistance of a six-man committee of experts headed by the leader of the independent Catholic group, Wiez, Tadeusz Mazowieczki.
The advisers are at strike headquarters in Gdansk, and observers believe they will use their influence with the strike committee to urge moderation. The powerful Roman Catholic Church, to which a majority of Poles belong, has also spoken out in favor of a negotiated compromise.
But following examples set by other trade unionists, the Polish strikers have learned not to weaken their negotiating hand by making concessions at the outset.
Meanwhile a letter, originally signed by 64 intellectuals, criticizing government policies for bringing Poland "to the brink of catastrophe," is attracting more signatories. Among the nearly 200 new names is Poland's best-known film director, Andrzej Wajda, who has made many outspoken films including "The Marble Man." Wajda has rarely allowed himself to get directly involved in political protests.
The appointment of Pinkowski, 51, as acting prime minister was interpreted here as a compromise choice. His appointment must still be confirmed by parliament.
In the early 1970s, he was involved in working out economic reforms, which did not come to full fruition. But he is said to have taken a hardline on agricultural problems.
The personnel changes, which included the firing of premier Edward Babiuch, were given prominent display play in Polish newspapers today with pictures of the newly appointed leaders. The Warsaw daily Zycie Warszawy carried a red-banner headline saying, "Today the most important concerns of all Poles are at stake. Together we can mend a lot and change a lot."
The changes among the Communist Party Politburo leaders and members of the Central Committee reflected the biggest shuffle in Poland's ruling ranks since Gierek replaced Wlady-slaw Gomulka as party leader during similar labor unrest in the Baltic area 10 years ago.
[Polish Ambassador Romuald Spasowski met with Deputy Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher Monday for the second time in four days, State Department officials said. Spasowski reportedly informed Christopher formally of the changes in the Polish government that were made Sunday. On Friday, Spasowski went to the State Department to thank the United States for its "restraint" during Poland's current crisis, officials said.]
The party stance on the strikes has changed markedly since last week when the strike leaders were attacked as "antisocialist elements" and their methods described as terrorism. The local Gdansk paper today published in full a speech by the Communist Party chief for the region in which he called the strike leaders "honest men."
The party official, Tadeusz Fiszbach, who has taken part in the negotiations at the Lenin Shipyard, said the real causes of what he called "the dramatic social conflict" along the coast was "the degradation of living conditions of coastal citizens." He criticized incessant price rises, shortages of basic consumer goods and the lack of raw materials for industry.
The official PAP news agency said: "The social crisis that our country is now undergoing has dramatically revealed the weaknesses in the functioning of some mechanisms of political life, and especially the necessity to intensify workers' democracy.
"The fact that the crews of factory establishments chose the road of strike testifies to insufficient social authority and inefficient work of many trade union links," it said.
The discussion at the Central Committee meeting Sunday night was described as "bitter and tough" by one of the participants who was interviewed on Warsaw television.
Negotiations reportedly resumed today at the Warsky Shipyard in Szczecin, which is the headquarters for strikers from about 50 factories near the East German border. The new government team included Mieczyslaw Rakowski, the editor of the influential weekly Polityka, who has frequently called for substantial reforms in Polish political life.
Like other advocates of reform, Rakowski was promoted in Sunday's reshuffle. He is now a secretary to the Central Committee.
Greater candor is also evident on the nightly television news, which now devotes considerable coverage to the strikes. For what is believed to be the first time ever in the Polish media, the new finance minister, Marijan Krzak, tonight divulged that Poland is $20 billion in debt to the West.