free good education. including exellent free unis.
internationally accepted as a hard working well educated workforce.
Anyone who works with Poles can tell you that "hard working" doesn't exist in Poland. In fact, quite the opposite - it's only with their work ethic abroad that has got them that reputation. I'm sure Wroclaw Boy can tell you a horror story or two about lazy Polish workers!
As for the education - it's not good. There are some cases where the education is approaching "good" on a European level, but on the whole, the system is dire. It churns out lots of people with "papers", many of whom are totally incapable of doing the job - there's a reason why most good Polish companies will train from within rather than rely on external training providers.
Was there really no way of saving it?
Finally, you're talking some sense.
Solidarity was more or less founded on the principle that people wanted what the elite had - and they wanted to have what the Western elite had, too. That meant high wages, access to products, good housing, good health care, etc etc. It was more or less a movement based on a desire for Swedish style social democracy.
But when they got self determination, it became dreadfully clear that Solidarność was woefully lacking in talent. Ciegelski is a great example of this - they *could* still thrive if they sell off 75% of the Debiec site and concentrated on one or two core lines. But that would mean many people getting sacked - people who are paid to sit in offices and pretend that they're working for Solidarność. I've seen with my own eyes inside one of their production halls - 20 offices. 6 of those offices were being used for Solidarność activities. How can anyone ever hope to succeed when the workers have such an iron grip on the company?
Incidentally, Polonius - Solaris can be counted as a genuine Polish success story. Autosan are still doing reasonably well for themselves as well.