Delegates to the congress of the independent trade union Solidarity voted early this morning to evict two government ministers who had come to the meeting to defend controversial price increases, and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa warned of possible "brawls" unless the government immediately froze the planned hikes.
Walesa's warning came at the end of a dramatic debate at Solidarity's first national congress here, during which the government delegation had sought to justify the increases in the prices of cigarettes and other products as "economically necessary." Angry Solidarity delegates insisted that the increases be withdrawn to avoid a new wave of labor unrest around the country.
The delegates, who spoke of the bitterness of rank-and-file members over the issue, rejected a suggestion by Finance Minister Marian Krzak to open negotiations to settle the dispute. By an overwhelming majority, they approved a motion by Walesa to evict the government delegation from the congress hall until the price hikes were withdrawn.
Earlier Krzak, accompanied by the minister for prices, Zdzislaw Krasinski, had flown to Gdansk in an effort to explain why the price increases were, in the government's view, "economically necessary."
Krzak's speech was followed by a question-and-answer session in which one delegate after another got up to criticize the government's action.
When Krzak refused to give an immediate commitment that the price increases would not go into effect from today as planned, Walesa demanded that the minister leave the hall until the issue was resolved.
"It is a simple matter for you to go on television and suspend the price increase. Otherwise there will be brawls, and we will be able to control them while you won't," he said.