MINERS BLOCKADED main roads and railway lines in Silesia in Poland last week in a battle against unemployment. They were joined by railway workers who themselves are facing privatisation and mass sackings. Unfortunately the blockades lasted only three hours and involved only 3,000 protesters.
Many more would participate but are being held back by union leaders. Up to 100,000 mining jobs have already gone, and 40,000 more are under threat. On 11 September some 10,000 miners marched in the capital Warsaw. The miners' leaders keep threatening strikes, but then shy away at the last moment. The miners' protests come after a spate of strikes in factories where workers are threatened with sackings and have not been paid for months.
The government of ex-Stalinists turned Blairites is hugely unpopular. It is not always the case that workers are ready for a general strike, but this is the mood in Poland today. That was seen at last weekend's conference of Solidarity, the second biggest trade union federation.
The miners' leader argued against a general strike, saying, we could overthrow the government, but what then? That deflected the most militant demands, but the conference decided to consult on nationwide protests, including a possible general strike.