The leaders of the independent trade union Solidarity said today that, after a year of its existence, the movement had become the guarantor of reform in Poland.
In a report delivered on the second day of the movement's first national convention, union leaders said the economic crisis had hidden the fact that Poland had become a very different country since Solidarity's formation a year ago. Despite grave threats to its own existence and the fate of Poland, Solidarity had managed to consolidate itself as a permanent feature in the country's life, the report said.
"We are now at the beginning of our path and everything is before us. It is no exaggeration to say that a revolution has been accomplished in Poland, the main force of which is Solidarity," it said.
The leadership said it believed that both government and union would continue to solve disputes through negotiation rather than by force. But, in a warning of future conflicts, it said there were still groups of people in Poland who wanted to destroy Solidarity and were prepared for "national treason." It did not elaborate.
The report, which is being debated by the delegates, said Poland faced the threat of economic catastrophe due to the government's failure to introduce reforms speedily enough. It said the union was prepared to participate in plans for economic recovery as long as families with lowest incomes were protected and unemployment on "a mass scale" was avoided.
"Above all we have to remember that society has granted Solidarity enormous trust and sees in our union a guarantor of the renewal of the country's social life and the protection of the highest national interests," the report said.
During the debates, delegates voted to condemn the decision to close a legal investigation into alleged police violence against Solidarity activists in the northern city of Bydgoszcz last March. But no specific action was threatened beyond a strike alert already ordered by the local Solidarity chapter.
The most heated argument on the second day of the convention took place over whether or not to hold a Roman Catholic mass in the hall Monday morning. The proposal was originally voted down but, following vociferous protests, the attendance was made voluntary.
The present stage of the convention, which could last until Tuesday, is largely devoted to procedural matters and the most important debates over the union's program will take place during the second stage at the end of the month.