Ukrainian immigrants in Poland are powering the country’s economy, which is surging. And the news is good for both sides.
Some 1m Ukrainians, who are currently living and working in Poland, can earn five times more than at home, picking tomatoes, mixing cement or driving for Uber, the ride-hailing firm. And employers are happy because Ukrainians are helping to fill Poland’s fast-growing labour shortages.
As reported by The Economist, the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers (ZPP) has warned that 5m more workers are needed to sustain growth over the next three decades.
According to Katarzyna Sidlo of Warsaw’s Centre for Social and Economic Research, Ukrainians alone will not be enough to plug the gap, but they help.
In 2013 there were only 527 temporary foreign workers in the central Polish town of Kalisz. Now there are nearly 10,700. Most are Ukrainian. In March a Ukrainian priest arrived to minister to the migrants in their own language, one of 15 being posted across Poland.
Karolina Pawliczak, the deputy mayor, welcomes the newcomers. “Poles can pick and choose” jobs, she says. Ukrainians “are saving our labour market”.
But employers are beginning to worry that the stream of cheap labour could soon dry up. Rules introduced in May allow Ukrainians to travel in the EU (but not Britain and Ireland) for 90 days without a visa.
The ZPP wants the Poland to convince Ukrainians to stay in Poland by granting an amnesty to those working illegally.