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A. Rudzienski

Polish CP Uses ‘Statified’ Unions
to Attack Workers Wage Standards

(September 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 37, 12 September 1949, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

After destroying Mikolajczyk’s peasant, opposition, the Polish Stalinists proceeded to the complete subjugation of the Polish proletariat. The first step was the “fusion of the workers’ parties,” preceded by the famous trials of the independent Social-Democrats. The creation of the “united” Stalinist party of Poland, which Represented totalitarian political chains for the old and heroic Polish workers’ movement, was only the preparation for the imposition of economic chains.

At the last congress of the statified trade unions, no opposition broke the sepulchral silence after the Stalinist leaders delivered their tiresome and boastful speeches. The trade unions claim 3,330,000 members out of the 4,550,000 factory and office workers in Poland. It would seem that 1,250,000 workers and office employees are still trying to escape the control of the totalitarian unions. The principal task of this tenacious and continuing Stalinist offensive is to intensify the economic exploitation of the workers.

Whipping the Slaves

The three-year plan of economic reconstruction calls for a rise in production in 1949 to the approximate level, of 1939. (Agricultural production is to reach only 80 per cent of the year 1939.) The planned investment of 10 billion zlotys must be extracted from the Polish workers and peasants. The authors of the three-year plan counted on a loan of two billion zlotys to help cover the necessary cost of investment but now, in view of the impossibility of such a loan, they must also draw this additional sum from the proletariat.

Hence there is nothing strange in the fact that the trade-union congress serves as a whip in the hands of the ruling bureaucracy against the beasts of burden into which the Stalinists have turned the Polish people.

The annual tribute of 30 to 40 million tons of coal delivered free of charge to Russia Could easily pay the cost of the industrial investments covered by an international loan in the plan, but within the system of “popular democracy” this colonial tribute only tightens the chains of misery that bind the Polish proletariat to the chariot of despotic Stalinist imperialism.

Accordingly, the trade-union congress was subjected to one long harangue on the need to develop a Stakhanovist movement in Poland as a means of increasing the degree of exploitations. This movement has suffered grave reverses since its initiator, the miner Pestrovsky, died as a consequence of his extreme efforts. The bureaucrats strive to corrupt a stratum of the workers in order to create thereby a new workers’ aristocracy. This new aristocracy will serve as a whip in the hands of the bureaucracy to compel the proletariat to work harder.

To attain this goal, the trade-union satraps are striving to eliminate all resistance to their efforts in this direction, especially on the part of the factory delegations. These delegations, created in the year 1905–06, were organs of workers’ democracy.

The delegates were elected in the general assembly of the factory or mine; they represented the maximum strength of the organized and unorganized workers in their struggle against the capitalist enterprise and the czarist and bourgeois regimes. Furthermore, they represented the unity of all the workers without regard for political creed or union affiliation. It cost the Stalinists a great deal of effort to subdue or destroy the factory delegations in Poland.

GPU Takes Over

Now it seems that all resistance has been conquered at last. The trade-union congress recommended that there be created “union groups” in the factories, each headed by a “trustworthy person.” Naturally these “trustworthy persons” will be the spies and informers of the security police.

It is only too obvious that the trade unions have lost their main function of defending the workers against exploitation and economic oppression by the capitalists and the government, and have been transformed into an economic whip in the hands of the totalitarian Stalinist bureaucracy.

In accordance with their new function, the leading cadre of the trade unions has been changed. The old general secretaries, Sikorski and Witaszewski, old Communist militants, have been changed for a Cwik, a policeman absolutely loyal to the GPU and the “Bezpieka,” the “security police.”

Against such measures the proletariat has no defense. Its basic wage, as in other East European countries, has practically disappeared. The “slave wage” oscillates. between 10,000 and 20,000 zlotys ($8 to $15), not even enough to buy a good pair of shoes. With the abolition of rationing, the workers are at the mercy of “overtime,” of “records” and other super-capitalist measures of exploitation.

With the disappearance of the basic wage, piecework has taken the place of. the hourly wage. Driven by the whip of hunger, the worker labors like a beast. The complaint of a decline in productivity is very frequent on the part of the “workers’ leaders.”

CP Marks Time

The offensive against the peasantry which was announced in the course of the campaign against Gomulka’s “nationalist deviation” has been temporarily abated, it seems, until Russia’s difficulties with Tito and similar phenomena in the Russian-dominated area are straightened out.

The vice-premier, Hilary Mine, considered the next victim of the “nationalist deviation,” seems to have succeeded in saving his position during his recent and prolonged visit to Moscow. It would also appear that he succeeded in persuading Stalin to delay “collectivization” in the Polish countryside until Russia’s international difficulties are smoothed out, and a technical basis for the production of tractors for agricultural use is created in Polish industry.

The Stalinist “kulturkampf” against the Catholic Church does not have the strength it has in Hungary or Czechoslovakia. The regime is proceeding with much care, fearful of provoking a desperate resistance on the part of the peasant masses and the petty bourgeoisie of the city. It seems to be trying to win them over to neutrality while it unfolds its economic offensive against the industrial proletariat.

Polish Titoism?

In exile, the London Polish government has lost the remnants of its prestige, dominated by the “Pilsudski camp.” The newly created “National Council,” an attempt to create a Parliament in exile, does not have the support of the main political tendencies; its “patriotic” harangues echo in a void. The National-Democratic Party, the main force of the bourgeois Right, has withdrawn from the government and seeks an understanding with the Democratic Alliance of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) and Mikolajczyk.

The leader of the bourgeois Right, Bielecki, in the course of his visit to the United States, learned that he could not count on the support of the U.S. State Department against Mikolajczyk. The Americans offered him nothing specific but were greatly interested in the possibility of Polish “Titoism.”

But, according to Bielecki, the geographic conditions make Polish “Titoism” impossible. Besides, the bitter experience of the Polish people in the resistance and the Warsaw insurrection have stripped them of any desire to struggle in exchange for the empty promises of the Anglo-American imperialists. At the present time, the Polish Right is not in a position to offer the Polish workers’ blood on the American market.

In addition, the Americans do not believe in the influence of the “Pilsudskyists” or the Nationalist Right; they prefer to come to an understanding with Mikolajczyk and the Democratic Alliance, and better still, to come to ah agreement with a Polish secessionist “Tito” movement. There is much criticism of the American State Department in the Polish rightist press, and many warnings against American illusions regarding the political possibilities of Tito in Yugoslavia and Mao in China.

Realignment Forming

The democratic opposition of the PPS and Mikolajczyk’s Populists attracts to its Alliance not only the Christian-Socialists of Popiel, but is also negotiating with Bielecki in order to arrive at an understanding with the four principal Polish parties, leaving the government-in-exile completely out of the picture. Mikolajczyk’s organ in Paris has come out clearly for the creation of a national committee which would completely displace the moribund exile government in London.

Until recently, the PPS, the main force of the Democratic Alliance, refused to take such a step, but the recent congress of the party in Britain approved a resolution which states the necessity of giving new political representation to all the main political tendencies in the national life. If this should happen, the present government-in-exile would lose its already dwindling importance.

Naturally the recognition by America and England of a new Polish political representation depends on the international situation, especially with regard to the U.S. attitude toward Russia.

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