In the face of a stagnating post-war economy, Polish Communist leader Władysław Gomułka, the First Secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR), decided to end government subsidies for food and other everyday items in late 1970. Although the system of fixed, artificially low food prices kept urban discontent in check, it was unsustainable, absorbing approximately one third of the budget.
In the southern Polish city of Kielce, in the late 2000s, a public bus company, MPK (Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne), employed around 630 people and ran 160 buses regularly in the city. For several years, the company had been struggling to survive. It had been put under a traffic planning authority, ZTM, which controlled business operations and pushed it into debt. Working conditions were also unfavorable: wages were low, bus schedules didn't allow drivers regular breaks, and it became difficult for the company to hire new employees.