A company owned by Ukraine`s powerful Donbas Industrial Union is to acquire a controlling stake in Poland`s historic Gdansk shipyard, the 1980s cradle of the freedom fighting Solidarity trade union that brought down communism in Poland, according to DPA. Andrzej Jaworski, president of the ailing Gdansk yard, Tuesday in Gdansk confirmed the Donbas-owned ISD Polska will acquire a 75 per cent stake in the shipyard for some 400 million zloty (153 million dollars).

The move to privatize the shipyard comes at a critical juncture in its dramatic history.

Dark clouds have hung over the state-owned yard since Poland`s 2004 European Union entry, with regulators insisting public subsidies to keep it afloat violated EU rules.

ISD Polska chairman Kostyantyn Lytvynov told reporters in Gdansk Tuesday his company plans to invest 500 million zloty in the yard with the intention of making it a top European shipbuilder.

The Gdansk Shipyard gained global attention in August 1980, when workers there led by shipyard electrician Lech Walesa formed the first and only free trade union in the entire Soviet bloc.

The strike staged at what was then the Lenin Shipyard spread like wildfire across Poland until the union swelled in numbers from a handful of shipyard workers to 10 million members from all walks of life across Poland.

Although the communist party`s December 13, 1981 Martial Law crackdown on Solidarity sent the union underground for most of the 1980s, its leaders eventually regrouped and brought about a peaceful negotiated end to communism in Poland in 1989.

Earth Times