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Gdansk Shipyard Workers to Strike

Gdansk, June 11 (RFE/RL) -- Workers at the Gdansk Shipyard, the cradle of Poland's Solidarity free trade union movement, voted at a rally today to stage a 48-hour sit-down strike beginning tomorrow

The workers, backed by all three trade unions at the shipyard, are protesting a government decision to declare the yard bankrupt.

Solidarity's national chairman Marian Krzaklewski called for nationwide solidarity with the Gdansk shipyard in a bid to pressure the government to find solutions.

The Polish Treasury, which holds a 60 percent stake in the yard, voted at a shareholder's meeting Saturday to push the debt-ridden facility into bankruptcy.

The Solidarity leader at the shipyard, Jerzy Borowczak, says there was no need to take the decision about bankruptcy, which could result in the yard's 7,300 workers losing their jobs.

The leader of the leftwing OPZZ union at the yard, Henryk Koscielski, promised to pressure his leftist colleagues in parliament to come to the workers defence. but Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz told Polish public television the government will not change its position. He says bankruptcy proceedings will result in a serious transformation of the shipyard.

Privatization Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek said last week the Gdansk shipyard will definitely collapse. He said a new, streamlined shipbuilding company could still be formed. But he said the new firm could only function for 12 months to complete five ships now under construction and could not take on new orders.

The Solidarity Union movement contributed to the toppling of the communist government seven years ago.