Apr 29, 2019
Translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.
Ukraine’s economy and social conditions became so bad that more than three million of its 45 million people moved permanently to other countries to work. Another seven to nine million moved temporarily. Workers moved to nearby countries or other countries speaking similar languages, like Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland. They work in construction, cleaning, retail, nursing, day labor, or as taxi drivers, technicians, and so on.
Half a million Ukrainians work in Poland, according to a Polish bosses’ association. But the real number is probably double that, because of undocumented workers and those on very short-term contracts.
However, Polish bosses are worried about running out of workers! After two decades of rhetoric, the European Union finally decided to allow Ukrainians to enter its member countries without getting visas.
Many Polish and other Eastern European workers have moved to countries in the European Union to find work with pay not as low as back home. So, all throughout the economy Polish bosses have had to replace Polish labor with Ukrainian labor. For the bosses it would be a catastrophe if this until-recently captive but skilled and low-paid workforce chooses to move nearby to Germany instead! After all, Germany also needs workers, and the pay is three times higher. And German bosses got Berlin to change the law to make it easier for them to hire workers from outside the EU.
So Polish bosses are pressuring their government to make it easier for Ukrainian workers to stay in Poland, to become citizens, and maybe even to get raises!
This has nothing to do with respect for workers. The Polish bosses are like the Czech and Slovak bosses who pushed similar reforms. They need labor, the source of all their profit.
They do not care that their need for labor undercuts the nationalistic speechifying of their own politicians. For years, politicians in Warsaw have churned out xenophobic rhetoric to deny admitting as many refugees as European officials demand, and hypocritically claiming they already host one million Ukrainian refugees.