Poland's independent trade union organization Solidarity today issued a full accounting of its discussions yesterday with top government officials, indicating mixed results from the marathon negotiations.
The talks, inconclusive on the central question of the wording of Solidarity's charter and on a number of other items, turned out to be less the ultimate showdown with authorities that union organizers had prepared for.
Despite the saber-rattling that occurred beforehand, the meeting itself was reported by participants to have gone calmly. But the spirit of understanding that was said to prevail during the first 10 hours of talks appeared to dissolve in the final four hours during which the two sides failed to come to agreement on a joint communique.
A brief report by the government-run press agency PAP early today said that the government had assured the union of its legal status following a controversial decision by a Warsaw district court last week to register Solidarity on certain conditions. Further, the government was reported to have promised the union that "it will be ensured conditions for activity."
But government officials at the meeting, led by Premier Jozef Pinkowski, sidestepped the union's core complaint against unilateral changes imposed by the court on the union statute including explicit references to the leading role of the Communist Party in the state and other communist principles.
According to press reports, Justice Minister Jerzy Bafia promised Solidarity that the Supreme Court would hear the union's appeal on the changes by Nov. 10 -- two days before the date the union's leadership had picked for possible selective strikes.
Union leaders reaffirmed their intention to strike if unsatisfied with the eventual outcome of the registration matter. But the government's statements on this point appeared to buy more time for the country and could succeed in helping to defuse a still potentially explosive situation.
On other issues, the union won its most substantial assurances from the government on its demands for greater access to the media and on certain wage increase concerns, but appeared to have made little headway on questions affecting farmers and improvements in the availability of many market goods that are in extremely short supply.
Janusz Onyszkiewicz, a union spokesman, today released a copy of the comminque that union officials said they had hoped would be accepted by the government but which was not.
The wording of its discussion of the registration issue was exactly the same as the report by the Polish news agency. But it went further to elaborate on several other main topics discussed:
On access to mass media, union representatives promised that their access to radio, press and television would be used "in the interest of workers and with full respect toward the law." The government granted the union permission to print its own national trade union paper, although it left the details of this for later. The union's additional request for regular access to radio and television was set aside for further discussion.
On wage increases, the union won guarantees of extra raises for workers in medical care, education and communication.
On farmers, government officials stressed the need to develop more farming cooperatives. But Solidarity organizers put forward new forms of union activity for farmers, and the whole matter was left for later discussions.
Commenting on the results at a 2:30 a.m. press conference shortly after the talks ended, labor leader Lech Walesa described his feelings as "mixed."
He voiced disappointment at the failure to get a written record of the government's oral assurances. "If all is implemented," he said, "then it will be a considerable victory for us. We have been understanding each other well."