INTRODUCTION: Millions of Poles went on strike for four hours on Friday (27 March) to protest alleged police brutality against members of the independent trade union Solidarity.
GV Meeting in progress in Warsaw between Lech Walesa and Deputy Prime Minister. (MUTE)
CU Rakowski, Deputy Premier, ZOOM OUT TO government delegation. (MUTE)
CU Walesa ZOOM OUT TO his party. (MUTE)
GV WARSAW Trams entering depot PAN TO roadside queue at stall. (SOUND BEGINS)
GV Almost deserted street.
SV Solidarity officials outside building. (2 SHOTS)
CU Walesa smoking in car. (2 SHOTS)
GV Tractors at strike bound factory with "strike" sign.
GV PAN Strikers at factory.
SVs Idle tractors on production line. (2 SHOTS)
SV GDANSK Strikers locking factory gate PAN TO other workers outside. (Black & White)
CU Flag flying. (Black & White)
GV PAN Idle ship-building yards. (Black & White)
JELINA GORA GV's Empty factory. (3 SHOTS) (Black & White)
CU ZOOM OUT People reading notice. (Black & White)
GV People in quiet town centre. (2 SHOTS) (Black & White)
GV ZOOM BYDGOSZCZ Factory symbol, people standing outside
GV ZOOM OUT People standing outside strike buildings.
SV Strike posters outside factory gate. (2 SHOTS)
GV WARSAW People passing Solidarity men as general strike hooters sound.
LV Workers outside factory.
GV WASHINGTON Reagan at rally welcomed by press. (MUTE)
GV Reporter asks question about how he viewed Polish situation and Reagan replies.
SPEECH ON FILM (TRANSCRIPT)
REPORTER: (SEQ. 24) "How do you feel about the situation in Poland?"
REAGAN: "Very serious."
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: Millions of Poles went on strike for four hours on Friday (27 March) to protest alleged police brutality against members of the independent trade union Solidarity. Fears were growing that the country's economy might collapse completely if unrest continue - and that Soviet Union might now decide to intervene in Poland.
SYNOPSIS: Talks continued on Friday between Solidarity leader Lech Walesa and government officials, including Deputy Prime Minister Mieczyslaw Rakowski. But there was little hope of breakthrough. Solidarity said the strike was intended to show the government it could never again mistreat union members with impunity -- and in the capital, Warsaw, as well as other cities the walkout brought life almost to a standstill.
It was the biggest protests by organised labour in 36 years of Communist rule, and plunged the Polish government further into crisis. The Solidarity officials, led by Lech Walesa, said they intended to ensure that the far-reaching changes achieved by their movement remained a reality.
Industries from tractor factories to coalfields in Silesia and shipyards on the Baltic were shut down. And there were further threats of a general strike called by Solidarity for Tuesday if it was not satisfied with the government's response. The authorities were considering martial law to deal with the strike.
In the city of Gdansk, where Lech Walesa began the free trade union movement, the shipyards were completely idle in defiance of official warnings that Poland is on the brink of self-destruction.
There was a similar response in Jelina Gora, where factories stood empty during the four-hour stoppage. The government estimates that Poland has sufficient food to last for only eleven days, and has appealed to the European Common Market for essential supplies including butter and meat.
It was in the city of Bydgoszcz that Solidarity members were allegedly attacked by police on March 19th. Union leaders said they believed the incident was a deliberate attempt by the authorities to undermine the movement, and go back on the promises that had been made.
As the strike got under way in Warsaw, concern was being expressed in the United States about a possible response by the Soviet Union. President Reagan said in a strongly worded statement that any intervention to quell labour unrest could gravely affect East-West relations.
Moscow's patience with Poland's labour problem, according to American administration officials, could be nearing an end. In Washington, President Reagan spoke to reporters about the mounting crisis facing the Polish government.