The column by Rafał Woś , in which he postulates limiting economic migration, fits in with the trends that are still alive among left-wing activists in most generally Western European countries, i.e. where Poles go to work en masse. And, as in the discussions there, it lacks quite an important issue – the perspective of the guest workers themselves.
The universal possibility of escape, the availability of work abroad is one of the easiest ways to earn faster. It is the unskilled workers (and not students or specialists) that gain the most from open borders. And they lose when there are various obstacles to overcoming these borders, which was visible after the introduction of quarantine, entry ban, tests, or other obligations and restrictions related to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Besides, these workers are not so unskilled, as it is quite lightly assessed. On the one hand, recognition problems are common. In Norway, the procedure of checking qualifications from Poland often ends with a refusal. This was the case with me and with many of my colleagues who had been educated in the profession and had a long experience. Bricklayers, plasterers, steel fixers and carpenters work as “unskilled” workers for lower wages, because this is how the system works.
On the other hand, working below qualifications is not something strange in emigration. Also, many people with higher education hang on to the proverbial dishwasher, clean or work in production, where they receive the minimum wage, i.e. about PLN 10,000 per month. And it is often the first experience of good earnings after years of career in Poland. Although of course there is also a less rosy side to the trips.
During the pandemic, numerous cases of disastrous housing conditions for foreign workers came to light. In Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, it was loud about it mainly due to the outbreaks of infections that arose in such places. So, from mid-2020, reports and articles about the situation of migrants appeared, looking for solutions for the present and the future. It is worth adding that also in these reports, of which probably the most detailed is the so-called Roemer report on the Netherlands, the voice of migrants is more of an add-on.
Therefore, we do need a new migration policy. However, it must be more inclusive, and the role of the state must be active and definitely pro-migrant. If Polish workers abroad are exposed to exploitation, Poland should cooperate with the host countries to counteract it. For now, she is passive. And yet the support of its citizens can bring tangible benefits to both sides.
At the end of last year, the so-called double taxation. Theoretically, they are intended to encourage migrants to return. But the effect can be completely different and the budget will get an unexpected cash injection. Of course, the imposition of an additional financial burden on social dumping is controversial, but the mere fact of noticing Polish migrants may be a turning point.
The same applies to guest workers who come to us. The state has much more to offer migrant workers than selection and border surveillance. But let the employees coming to Poland have their say on this subject. Our colleagues from Ukraine, Belarus, Vietnam and other countries. They too can speak for themselves.
Justyna Marciniak construction assistant in Norway, member of the trade union Fellesforbundet avd 600 Bygningsarbeidernes Fagforening