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Why Poles are worried about a Brexit

Wednesday, June 08, 2016 - 01:38

For years, Britain has been the favoured choice of Polish migrant workers, lured by higher wages and a strong pound. But as Ivor Bennett reports, the threat of a Brexit is prompting many to look for work elsewhere.

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Modlin airport near Warsaw. For so long, for so many, a gateway to Britain. (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) MAN TRAVELLING TO WORK IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, GRZEGORZ, SAYING: "It's easy to find a job, the easiest way is through an agency, where other Poles work." However easy it is now, it may not be for long. A possible Brexit clouding the horizon. (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) MAN WORKING IN LONDON, PIOTR, SAYING: "Everybody is thinking what will happen next, will access to work be the same as it used to be. There will probably be some restrictions associated with it." Warsaw's gleaming skyline is a testament to Poland's recent economic expansion. But the higher wages overseas are hard to resist. 2.3 million Poles worked abroad in 2014, nearly 30 percent of them in Britain. But the latest estimate puts that proportion at just 18 percent. (SOUNDBITE) (Polish) WORK SERVICE EMPLOYMENT AGENCY SPOKESPERSON, ANDRZEJ KUBISIAK, SAYING: "Many Poles realise that if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union we will no longer have a free labour market, and it will be much more difficult to find jobs." Benefits too may be harder to come by, with immigration a central part of the Leave campaign. But migrants may not be the only ones who miss out. According to a UCL study in 2014, the net contribution of EU migrants working in the UK was almost 5 billion pounds. (SOUNDBITE) (English) POLE WORKING IN LONDON, KAMIL KEDZIERSKI, SAYING: "Businesses in Britain, they really want to have some security, some stability. If you run a business you want some reliable workforce - and we are reliable." Even if Britain does leave the EU, there are still plenty of other destinations to choose from. Germany apparently now the Poles' top choice.

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Why Poles are worried about a Brexit

Wednesday, June 08, 2016 - 01:38