Sunday, January 21, 2007


The Los Angeles Times reports on the migration of between 500,000 and 2,000,000 young Polish nationals to countries in Western Europe since the admission of Poland to the European Union. While the young Poles have gone west in search of good jobs, Poland has been left without enough workers and, like many other countries with rapidly growing economies, has been absorbing immigrants.

The westward movement of Poles and other East Europeans, including Latvians, Lithuanians and Czechs, has created a second wave. Workers from non-EU countries farther east, such as Ukraine and Belarus, view Warsaw as Poles view London.

Despite Poland's own unemployment problem, legal and illegal foreign workers have been arriving in large numbers since 2000. The country issues as many as 25,000 work permits to foreigners annually. Officials say, however, that hundreds of thousands of migrants are scattered across the nation, working for wages that may barely support a Pole but could make a huge difference in Kiev or Minsk.

One estimate suggests that 200,000 illegal Ukrainians work in Poland, many in agriculture. In some cases, they baby-sit for families in which the father or mother is working in London or Dublin. "We're seeing something we didn't expect to see so soon: the opening up to workers from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus," said Tomasz Mogilski, vice president of Koelner Co., a Wroclaw-based construction tool maker. "Poland is becoming multiethnic."