Day of Solidarity and Freedom is a national holiday in the Republic of Poland celebrated on August 31. It commemorates the August Agreement of 1980. Despite its status as a national holiday, it is normally a working day, unless it falls during the weekend.
In the early 1970s, Poland’s economic growth rate was one of the highest in the world. However, the country’s centrally planned economy was unable to use the borrowed capital and new resources properly. In 1979, Poland was struck by economic crisis.
In 1980, the government authorized the increase in food prices. This led to labor strikes across the country. In August, workers of the Lenin Shipyard in the city of Gdańsk began to protest against the firing of the trade union activist Anna Walentynowicz. The protesters demanded greater civil rights and labor reform.
Gdańsk workers gained support of other striking groups and Polish citizens. This made the government give in to their demands. On August 31, 1980, the Gdańsk Agreement, also known as the August Agreement, was signed. This agreement led to the establishment of the trade union called Solidarity.
Day of Solidarity and Freedom was proclaimed by the parliament of Poland in 2005. The first official celebration took place on August 31, 2005 in Gdańsk.