The following dispatch is based on information arriving from Poland:
Polish labor leader Lech Walesa has agreed to open talks with the martial-law government of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, according to sources in Warsaw who have spoken to a member of Walesa's family.
The sources, who are considered reliable, said yesterday that the head of the independent labor movement Solidarity had decided Christmas Day to begin talks. The talks were to have opened Monday, but it could not be learned whether they had begun.
In other developments, Radio Warsaw reported that 12 leaders of the sit-in at the Piast coal mine in Silesia were arrested and several hundred participants in a strike at a steel mill near Katowice were "punished," and there were reports that the martial-law authorities were considering drafting men who "shunned work" for forced-labor teams.
On the political front, a government source who asked to remain unidentified said Jaruzelski will unveil a social, economic and political program in early January that will include guidelines under which a Solidarity-type union could operate.
The source said there is room in Poland's future "for an independent trade union, independent both of the state employer and of political manipulation."
In his address to the nation Christmas Day, Jaruzelski had said, "nobody intends to nullify the fundamental principles of renewal," the word Poles used during the rise of Solidarity to define political, social and economic changes.
He promised that "there is room for self-managing and really independent trade unions . . . ."
The same day, remnants of the suspended Solidarity free trade union issued a clandestine bulletin urging continued social protest to "strengthen the position of representatives of the church." The bulletin said talks were under way between the Polish bishops and the country's top Communist Party officials seeking a "political solution" to the crisis.
Reliable sources said yesterday Jaruzelski was preparing an address to the nation to be delivered on New Year's Eve, and it was believed that the speech would contain elements of the military government's new program.
A lengthy, signed article in the Communist Party daily Trybuna Ludu also suggested that an independent union organization could exist if it is ready "to take up constructive actions to focus its energies on resolving authentic problems of our difficult . . . reality.
"For the Solidarity trade union is a durable and meaningful component of Polish social and political life," the article continued. "But the margin of freedom to make errors by any of the sides also has become tremendously reduced."
The sources who have spoken with a member of Walesa's family also confirmed that the labor leader had been on a two-day hunger strike, but said he ended the fast on Christmas Day, when he decided to begin talks.
Previously, reliable sources have said that Walesa had been refusing to negotiate with the authorities unless the entire 18-member presidium of Solidarity was present. It was unclear whether the authorities had agreed to this demand. Other reports have indicated that Walesa insisted that the Polish Roman Catholic primate, Archbishop Jozef Glemp, also be present at any talks between himself and the authorities.
It was also unclear what Walesa and the authorities might have to negotiate about, although it is believed that the government wants the popular Solidarity leader to join in appeals for social peace under martial law.
A senior Solidarity leader still at large said any political solution to the Polish crisis could take place only on the basis of an agreement between "authentic Solidarity leaders" and the authorities. He said any attempt by the government to replace Solidarity leaders with Communist Party loyalists would be unacceptable.
"A political solution is necessary for the government, for Solidarity and for the Polish people," he said. "There is no other way out."
At a press conference in Warsaw yesterday, government spokesmen said Walesa was in good health and in contact with representatives of the government, the Catholic Church and his family. They denied that he is under arrest or "internment," although they said he is not free to move around.
"He is in Warsaw because that's where the government wants him, spokesman Jerzy Urban said.
At the same press conference, the spokesman of the ruling military council, Gen. Tadeusz Szacillo, said that eight persons had died in clashes between demonstrators and security forces in the first days of martial law, one more death than the authorities previously acknowledged. Szacillo said the victim was injured during a demonstration in the Baltic Coast city of Gdansk and that he died later in a hospital.
The government said seven miners were killed at the Wujek mine near Katowice. Other sources have said that dozens of Poles have died since the crackdown began on Dec. 13, but Urban denied reports of further deaths again yesterday.
Solidarity and student sources said yesterday, however, that another man was killed during the suppression of a strike at the polytechnic university in Wroclaw. They said the man, whom they identified only as "Kostecki," had died after being struck on the back of the head with a police officer's baton.
The two spokesmen also released government figures on the number of persons arrested for martial-law violations or "interned," or held under preventive detention, since the military crackdown. They said 5,555 Poles have been detained since Dec. 13, and that 580 of those have been released. Another 784 persons have been arrested, including both those charged with martial-law violations and common criminals.
Of those, 208 cases were turned over to the courts and 14 persons sentenced, they said. Four of those sentenced were found guilty of instigating strikes, while the other 10 had been tried for "normal crimes."
Dissident sources have placed the number of persons detained much higher.
Meanwhile, partial lists of detainees began circulating in Warsaw. They showed that many Solidarity leaders were being held at Strzebielinek, near Gdansk, while many intellectuals were detained at Drawsko, in the northwestern province of Koszalin.
Those reportedly detained at Strzebielinek include top Solidarity officials such as Andrzej Gwiazda, Jacek Merkel, Karol Modzelewski, Janusz Onyskiewicz, Jozef Patyna, Jan Rulewski and Antony Tokarczuk.
Jacek Kuron, leader of the dissident Committee for Social Self-Defense, better known as KOR, was also reported to be at the detention center near Gdansk. His KOR colleague Adam Michnik is being held at Bialoleka, in northern Warsaw, as are underground newspaper editor Jan Lytinski, Bronislaw Geremek, a close adviser to Walesa, and Jerzy Strzelecki, a leading sociologist, according to the lists.
Among the intellectuals being held at Drawsko are Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the former editor of Solidarity's weekly newspaper; Stefan Kurowski, a leading economist; former KOR member Anka Kowalska; Wladislaw Bartoszewski, secretary of the Polish PEN writers' club, and actress Helena Mikolajska.
Andrzej Kijowski, a leading writer, and Ryszard Bugaj, a Solidarity economic expert, were said to be released from detention.
Szacillo, the spokesman for the ruling military council, said at the news conference that some members of the Communist Party have also been interned under martial law and that "many of them will be fired from their posts."
The relationship between the communist party and the ruling military council has been one of the mysteries surrounding the latest Polish developments. Jaruzelski has not once since the announcement of martial law referred to himself, or been referred to in the official media, as first secretary of the Polish communist party. He is identified instead either as premier or, most often, as head of the military council.
Jaruzelski continues to be party first secretary, Szacillo said, as well as holding the two other posts and the title of defense minister. "However," the general added, "publicly we wish to emphasize the title that directly refers to the role Jaruzelski is playing at the moment."
He conceded that during the last few months the party for many reasons, had lost authority and credibility, and that its "leading role" had become weaker.
He said martial law does not abolish the Party's special constitutional position, but that the martial-law council has greater powers of action now and is therefore in the leading role at present. He added that the council does not oversee the party, but is active in the party through Communists wearing uniforms.
News services and radio reports reaching the West added the following:
Polish authorities were considering labor conscription for men between the ages of 18 and 45 "who do not work or study, particularly those whose sources of income cannot be recorded," according to a dispatch from the Soviet news agency Tass.
Tass did not elaborate, but it was believed that such a decree, if passed, could provide an excuse for forcing Solidarity activists, dissidents and intellectuals into punitive labor.
Tass also quoted the Polish news agency PAP as saying authorities had assigned "those who until now have shunned work" on Monday to clear snow from the streets and that Warsaw's principal streets are passable.
There were still signs of worker resistance to military rule, however. The Katowice steel mill remained closed, according to several accounts, because workers sabotaged furnaces. Radio Warsaw quoted the newspaper Trybuna Robotnicza (Worker's Tribune) as saying security forces routed 2,000 protesters from the Katowice mill Dec. 23, and that more than 300 have been "punished" by what it called the "collegium for misdemeanors" for participating in the strike.
It gave no further details, but said no one was hurt when "heavy military equipment . . . made short work of the barricades that had been raised."
Warsaw television quoted the press spokesman for the general prosecutor's office as saying seven men have been charged with "leading the sit-in strike at the Katowice steel works, obstructing normal work and seriously damaging installations and production."
Radio Warsaw said 12 ringleaders of the 13-day strike by 939 miners at the Piast mine in Silesia were arrested.