Friday, May 01, 2009

Polish life in UK is getting harder

Cezary Olszewski, publisher of the UK weekly Goniec Polski, claims that he is not at all surprised by reports of life getting harder for Polish migrants living in Great Britain.

“More and more workers feel that they are not well received,” says Olszewski. “In times of economic crisis, the easiest is to resort to selfishness and nationalistic sentiments,” he added, commenting on the recent and more frequent media reports of Brits protesting against the presence of Polish migrants in the country.

The publisher claims that there are about 1.5 million Poles living in the British Isles and about 750,000 in London alone. Olszewski claims that about 10 percent of migrants have returned to Poland in the first quarter of this year and probably another ten percent will do so in the coming months, especially if the construction and domestic services sectors of the economy continue to suffer as that is where most Poles are employed.

Employees at Polish Tourism and Travel, a partner of Goniec Polski under the Centre for Polish Culture, are also of the opinion that many Poles are returning home. Teresa Lines, a Pole who moved to the UK forty years ago and is now employed at the travel agency, complains that business is getting worse.

“Before Christmas we started noticing that many Polish clients were buying one-way tickets [home],” Lines stated.

Kasa Business Services, an accounting firm that helps Poles set up businesses in the UK, reports having to have closed their work agency because there simply are too few jobs on the market.

“The economic crisis has really hurt the construction industry,” states Ela Szatkowska, a Pole residing in the UK for eight years. “There are less and less firms hiring than last year,” Szatkowska added.

While Olszewski claims that he understands the nationalistic sentiments rising out of British society as a result of the economic crisis and increasing unemployment statistics, he maintains that Poles are not taking jobs away from Brits.

“Even if all the Poles left Britain, unemployment would not go down,” Olszewski adds. “We are not at fault for the economic crisis.”