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ON JULY 1, 1980, the communist regime in Poland announced price increases. With a centrally planned economy, no market control, and fictitious prices of products and wages, the government and the Polish United Workers' Party that ruled Poland had no other means to try and overcome the disastrous economic crisis. One week later, numerous factories in various parts of Poland went on strike. Initially, the western provinces and then later all of Poland stopped working. Strikes reached the biggest Polish seaport and shipbuilding industry towns: Gdansk and Gdynia. It was the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk where a mass strike started at the beginning of August.

The local strike committee, led by an electrician, Lech Walesa, was soon transformed into an Interfactory Strike Committee, which took up ...

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