The Polish government today proposed substantive new talks with the independent Solidarity trade union federation.
A detailed agenda proposed by the government for the talks was published in all Warsaw newspapers as Poles began a three-day Easter holiday break. The initiative marks a significant new attempt to involve Solidarity in tackling the country's economic and political crisis.
The government proposal covered most outstanding problems, from chronic food shortages to the union's access to the news media, but high-lighted Poland's desperate economic plight.
"The most significant problem now is now to stop the deterioration of the economic situation and ensure proper living standard for the people," it said.
No date was set for the talks. But it is believed they may begin following a session of the Communist Party Central Committee next weekend. The session is also likely to set the date for a party congress and consider changes in the Politburo.
Rank-and-file Communist Party members have demanded the removal from the Politburo of hard-line politicians whom they consider obstacles to reform. The leadership is, however, anxious to avoid the appearance of disunity at the top at a time when the Kremlin is deeply disturbed by the trend of events in Poland.
The Easter weekend provided a welcome break for Poles, 90 percent of whom are practicing Roman Catholics, after months of industrial unrest and political uncertainty. Following the settlement of along dispute over the establishment of an independent trade union for farmers, the country is entirely free of strikes and the threat of strikes for the first time in many weeks.
A note of cautious hope was injected into the holiday in messages to Poles from Solidarity leader Lech Walesa and the primate of Poland , Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski.
The 79-year-old cardinal, who is suffering from intestinal flu and will not be able to take part in public festivities, said in his message that Easter was a time of hope.
''It provides us with feelings and thoughts to escape from our spiritual decline and dibelief in the possibility of renewal of our personal and social life," he said.
Walesa said Poles could hope for a better future as long as they remained faithful to the values that Solidarity had been called on to implement.
"Democracy, the unity of our union and responsibility for the people on whose behalf we take decisions must be a law strengthened by faith and hope given to us by God through his resurrection," he said.
The Warsaw daily Zycie Warszawa said Poles were celebrating this Easter holiday in a period of "deep worry, dramatic tensions and everyday difficulties."
For most families, the most immediate problem was finding enough food for the traditional Easter family dinner. Despite the introduction of meat rationing, long lines formed outside food stores as people struggled to complete last-minute shopping.
After the Easter weekend, Solidarity leaders will meet to consider the government's latest proposals for talks. Practically all negotiations between the union and the communist authorities previously were held in response to a sudden crisis. However, the new prime minister, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, has promised to pay greater attention to Soliarity's opinions in drafting government programs. The government appears to accept the idea that it is necessary to win the union's support in order to implement an effective program for economic recovery.
For their part, Solidarity leaders have said they recognize the need for sacrifices -- but on the condition that the government introduces reforms to ensure that Poland has a long-term chance of escaping from its present cycle of crisis.