Increasing Number of Foreign Workers in Poland Is “Threatening” Local Employees, Trade Unions Says

The number of foreign workforce in the Polish labour market is notably increasing, as indicated by the Labour Market Barometer.

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More specifically, Poland recorded 530,000 overseas workers in 2023, which is over 260,000 more compared to the previous year, Schengen.News reports.

While the foreign workforce is considered necessary in the Polish labour market, trade union representatives have raised concerns about how it is affecting local employees.

To address this issue, the National Secretariat of Metalworkers of NSZZ “Solidarność” implemented two projects for migrant workers during the 2020-2024 years.

These projects called “Employing Foreigners and Working in a Multicultural Environment” and “Same Work, Same Pay”, provided training for 500 individuals, as revealed by the NSZZ “Solidarność”.

However, it was found that in some cases, trade unionists did not deal with matters related to foreigners at all, according to Jacek Majewski, one of the trainers in these projects.

He further said that in other cases, unionists did everything to make sure that overseas workers were employed straight by the employer.

As further noted, Polish employers usually hire foreign workers through different agencies and pay them less than Polish workers.

Employers are not interested in how these agencies treat people. The only thing that matters is that they could save on employees. This is a short-term measure because, in the long run, the costs of external services increase, so the profit does not increase at all.

Jacek Majewski, NSZZ “Solidarność”

Among other things, Majewski said that foreigners want to work after hours, and therefore, Polish employees have to do so, although they do not want to work overtime

‘Competences of Trade Union Activists Should Be Increased’

To deal with the current situation and concerns, the chairman of the National Secretariat of Metalworkers of NSZZ, “Solidarność” Grzegorz Pietrzykowski, proposed to increase the competencies of trade unionists while noting the importance of foreign workforce for the country’s economy.

We must accept the fact that foreigners will work in Polish companies. The competences of trade union activists should be increased in matters related to the employment of migrants. We cannot avoid this.

Grzegorz Pietrzykowski, NSZZ “Solidarność”

In 2023, Ukrainians Comprised 83% of Poland’s Foreign Workforce

In 2023, Ukrainians accounted for 83 per cent of the labour foreign workforce in Poland. Such a figure is also attributed to the influx of Ukrainians who arrived in the country after the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February 2022.

However, NSZZ “Solidarność” notes that the number of work permits granted to foreigners has been increasing notably since 2014.

After Ukrainians, other nationalities that are most common in the Polish labour market are Belrusia, Armenia and Uzbekistan.

Most In-Demand Jobs in Poland

The 2023 EURES report on shortages and surpluses identified 28 shortage occupations in Poland. Distributed across several sectors, some of the most in-demand roles are:

  • Building construction labourers
  • Earthmoving and related plant operators
  • Drivers (heavy truck, lorry, bus and tram)
  • Building and related electricians
  • Metal working machine tool setters and operators
  • Toolmakers and related workers
  • Welders and flame cutters

On the other hand, the report does not provide data regarding the surplus occupations in Poland.