The restructuring of the Polish coal sector is inextricably related to the democratic transformation which began in 1989. The economic dimension of the transformation is manifested in the shift from central planning to the free market. Although this process brought economic growth, it has had severe social costs.
The main goals of the coal sector restructuring were to achieve its profitability and competitiveness on the global market. However, even with a very quick down-sizing of production and employment, which positively affected the mines’ productivity, these goals were not achieved. Neither the profitability of the sector nor the sustainability of the labour restructuring were achieved. There were three main reasons for lack of success in this process. Firstly, the rapid changes of governments making impossible implementation of long term strategies and ensure implementation of market rules in the sector. Secondly, the pressure from trade unions on sustaining the status quo – state owed structure of mining companies, professional privileges and increasing salaries. Thirdly, the lack of sufficient incentives for retraining the miners and revitalising the areas exposed the most on the coal sector restructuring.