The Polish news agency today sharply attacked the AFL-CIO for giving aid to Poland's fledgling independent trade union movement, calling it an "intrusion" that "can only do harm" to the new unions as well as the general effort to put the country's internal affairs back into order.
The attack came in a dispatch written from the government-run agency's Washington bureau and reflected the deepening concern among Communist Party authorities about the quickening exodus of workers and professionals from the official trade unions to the new, independent ones.
Last Wednesday, AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland announced that the American labor movement was setting up a special fund to help the new independent Polish unions and launching a campaign to raise money for them. So far, however, the United Auto Workers has been the only U.S. labor group reported to have sent money to the new Polish unions, contributing to a $120,000 gift sent by several labor movements in other Western countries.
[Polish authorities have complained to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw about money being sent by American labor unions to help Poland's independent trade unions, United Press International reported, quoting a Western diplomatic source in the Polish capital.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had expressed its unhappiness," the source said, adding that the money was sent despite U.S. State Department objections.]
Meanwhile, strikes persisted and new conflicts flared in about 20 districts throughout Poland today, according to Warsaw government sources. Though part of the ongoing series of local walkouts to press local demands, they are also evidence of the general surge in Polish workers' assertiveness.
Worry that the new unions will drain the old ones of members, leaving them simply empty, administrative shells, is expected to force the official groups to go on the offensive to appear more forthright in defending worker interests.
[Polish Deputy Premier Mieczyslaw Jagielski met senior Soviet adviser Mikhail Suslov in Moscow for talks believed to have centered on the political situation in Poland, Reuter reported. The official Soviet news agency Tass indicated that differing views were expressed but said the meeting took place "in a warm and friendly atmosphere," Jagielski is the first senior Polish official to visit Moscow since the Polish government agreed to allow workers independent unions.]
Polish authorities, including the new party chief Stanislaw Kania, have been stressing in public speeches the achievements of the official trade unions and the need to maintain organizational unity within the labor movement. uAt the same time, the Warsaw government has assured workers it would honor its pledge to permit the formation of independent unions made in the agreements signed last month at Gdansk and Szczecin.
It is becoming apparent, however, that the new unions are to be left for the time being to find guidance and funding outside the government and the party -- but still within Poland. Financial or other forms of aid from Western-based unions rankles Polish officials and is regarded as interference in Poland's internal affairs.
Singling out the AFL-CIO for having an unconcealed "rabid antisocialist program," the state news agency PAP charged the American labor federation with aiming "to intrude upon the new Polish trade union movement with a line of action that is inimical to the foundations of the Polish sociopolitical system and Poland's alliances."
Referring to a recent U.S. News and World Report interview with AFL-CIO president Kirkland, the agency reported that "Kirkland believes the trade unions should be antigovernment and takes it for granted that they will represent an anti-Soviet orientation and a political opposition."
PAP said that the AFL-CIO assistance "is not intended in good faith and out of genuine concern for Poland's weal. It is nothing else but part of an antisocialist campaign hitting at Poland's basic interests and the Polish raison d'etat. It is of no help and runs fundamentally counter to Poland's search for desirable solutions to its internal problems."
Early this month, United Auto Workers President Douglas Fraser disclosed that his and other Western unions had given about $120,000 to the new unions through the International Federation of Metal Workers in Switzerland. Fraser said the money was intended to help provide food and other assistance to the striking workers.
A certain headiness appears to have taken hold in Polish working and professional groups in the wake of last week's unprecedented agreements.
Efforts to organize independent unions seem to be gaining almost faddish proportions. This spirit was evident in a conference here today of several hundred scientists, technicians and educators from Warsaw University, the Warsaw Academy of Sciences and high schools and research institutes that were considering laying the groundwork for a new association.
While the move is still tentative -- with such details as charter officers, membership requirements and the relationship to management and the state yet to be worked out -- the mood of the session was said by observers to be enthusiastic and determined.
Even in many factories not on strike, a "climate of mass meetings and discussion prevails," Warsaw television reported today.