Poland wants migrant labor in run-up to Euro 2012

Wed, 2007-08-01 12:23 PM
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Poland was selected, along with Ukraine, to host the Euro 2012 football championships and needs labor to help upgrade its communist-era grounds for the event.

Thousands of laborers from Poland have taken jobs in Western Europe following accession to the European Union in 2004. This has made it difficult to find people to help build the network of stadiums needed for Euro 2012.

Poland has decided to look beyond its borders for laborers needed for bricklaying, roofing, crane operating, bulldozing and in other skills shortage areas.

Poland is seriously considering looking to Asia for migrant labor to kick-start the construction effort.

Poland's labor minister, Anna Kalata, recently travelled to New Delhi in an attempt to entice workers to Poland. "The need for labour is particularly acute in the construction sector in the run-up to Euro 2012, and we need you," she said to Indians. She stated that the country's economic growth rate of 7 percent is making the problem worse.

However, some members of the Polish government are worried about increased immigration to the country from outside the EU. They say that security issues need to be balanced against the need for more migrant labor.

A task force under the guidance of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and including officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, labor, internal affairs and security are working on a plan of action to open the labor market.

"Only this body can carry out a full analysis, also from the point of view of security," said Kaczmarek. "For it is well known there have been countries that have absorbed large numbers of immigrants and have seen ethnic districts spring up in their cities and have seen organized crime associated with these districts."

Further comments from Kacsmarek seem to indicate reservations in looking too far east for workers.

"We have to decide, whether we want to orientate ourselves to Asians, who are looking at Poland as an attractive destination, and some want to even settle here," Kaczmarek said. "Or we should look to citizens from those countries, culturally close to us, such as Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus."

In any case, it's obvious that Poland needs to do something, and soon.

An advisor to the 2012 football championship bid says that infrastructure preparation is way behind schedule. Poland needs to build 600 miles of roadway, five airports, new hotels, and three new stadiums -- as well as upgrading another three existing stadiums.

Some even hope that the increased opportunities will entice Polish natives abroad to come home. However, this seems unlikely as wage rates in Western Europe tend to be higher than in Poland.