INTRODUCTION: Poland's new Deputy Prime Minister, Mieczyslaw Rakowski, who's in charge of relations with the free trade unions, held talks on Tuesday evening (17 February) with student leaders in an attempt to avert a national students' strike.
GV PAN People reading strike posters at Warsaw University. (2 SHOTS)
CU American television crew filming PAN TO people reading poster.
GV Students entering university building ZOOM INTO small crowd reading posters.
CU Hand-written letter to Education Minister.
SV Student leader speaking as student audience listens.
SV Students applaud.
CU Socialist Union of Polish Students' representative speaking.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Poland's new Deputy Prime Minister, Mieczyslaw Rakowski, who's in charge of relations with the free trade unions, held talks on Tuesday evening (17 February) with student leaders in an attempt to avert a national students' strike. The students are pressing for immediate recognition of an independent union to gain greater academic freedom and other concessions. Last month (January), an Inter-University co-ordinating committee was set up in Lodz. But talks between Lodz strike leaders and Higher Education Minister Janusz Gorski broke down last weekend, and campus protests have spread from the Baltic coast to Silesia. Student leaders in Warsaw said on Tuesday night (17 February) they expected other faculties there to join the law and medical schools, which are already on strike.
SYNOPSIS: Buildings and billboards at Warsaw University are plastered with strike posters, Solidarity flags and position papers. This particular dispute began in Lodz, and its lynch-pin is the Independent Students' Union (NZS), which was formed last autumn. Campus revolts have spread, with strike committees and press offices having been set up on most campuses. The authorities are intent on getting peaceful and negotiated settlements.
But students object to the leading role of the Community Party embedded in Poland's constitution, and to regulations limiting student action. Because of these objections, the Lodz talks failed.
At the Warsaw rally on Tuesday (17 February), students called for strength through unity, and for democratic resolutions of this dispute, and potential disruptions. This student called for his fellows to set up a steering committee, and if this didn't work, procedures could be changed.
The officially-recognised Socialist Students' Union has supported the student demands. This spokesman backed the strike call, but warned against a lot of campuses shutting down immediately. It's 13 years since the last major strike at Warsaw University, when 3,000 students were arrested.