Read the original article at radiosvoboda.org
Rally in support of Euromaidan, Warsaw, December 2013
This year the number of citizens of Ukraine who make contributions to the pension fund in Poland increased by 70 percent. Now there are almost no areas in the Polish economy without Ukrainian workers. Mass labor migration from Ukraine to Poland rapidly transformed from temporary to permanent, reported European experts who are watching the situation of Ukrainian workers on the Polish labor market.
27-year-old Oleh Yarovyi and his wife, 25-year-old Inna Yarova came to Warsaw from Kyiv. A year ago, the couple radically changed their life. The young people, who worked in the Ukrainian capital in advertising, opened a small cafe in the capital of Poland.
The tiny Dobrocafe, located near the Embassy of Ukraine, quickly became popular among Warsaw citizens. Located on only six square meters, this café immediately got into the Polish Book of Records as the smallest coffee house in the country.
Oleh Yarovyi says he feels comfortable in Warsaw, although Kyiv, in his opinion, is more beautiful. The couple moved to Poland with an idea of new opportunities opening up in the country that is developing dynamically. Young people do not complain about how their business is growing there. According to Oleg, his countrymen are quite successful in small business on Polish soil. Among his friends are the owners of a pizzeria and owner of the company, which produce pasta. Yarovyi told about Polish customers’ attitude towards Ukrainian businessmen.
"The Poles treat us pretty adequately, there are both Ukrainian and Polish flag in our cafe, well, of course, our accent - when people heard it, the first all of them asked was – where are you from, why did you move to Poland, what’s the situation in Ukraine, but positively, nobody said to us "Go back to Ukraine”, reflects Oleh Yarovyi.
There is no business sector without Ukrainian workers
Volodymyr Lykhota – is a Warsaw citizen who came from Ukrainian Kherson. He is a director of personnel agency "In'yaz" which helps Ukrainians to find the job in Poland. Lykhota talks about the trend of recent years on the Polish labor market: "There is no profession without Ukrainian workers, from the top jobs - managers, top managers, engineers, mechanics - and ending with drivers, barbers, many people working in the service, transport service, nutrition, gastronomy, hotel business. There are hairdressers, masseurs, lots of drivers, that is, beginning from those of ordinary jobs, ending with athletes. A lot of Ukrainian athletes are playing in different Polish clubs. "
Myroslava Keryk, head of the "Our choice" fund notes that the flow of Ukrainian labor migration to Poland traditionally increases when economic situation is deteriorating in Ukraine. This happens now. "This year, we see that people come to Poland from different regions, not only from Western Ukraine, and they come with their families. So, they accepted a new life strategy - decided to move here, look for a job here, and settle in Poland. Also increased the number of Ukrainians who buy apartments here. "
Keryk says that the Polish government institutions indicate different data on the number of Ukrainian workers in Poland. We know, for example, during the year that passes, Poland issued a million of Ukrainian visas and half a million of work permits.
"When it comes to the latest data, we have it from the Polish pension fund. As of September this year there are about 200 thousand employed foreigners in Poland, of which 170 thousand are Ukrainians, these are people who make contributions to the pension fund and social security, which is a prerequisite for their employment agreements ", - she said. In 2015, such contributions made 101 000 citizens of Ukraine in Poland, and within a year the number of such people has almost doubled.
Myroslava Keryk believes that this trend speaks about positive changes in the minds of Ukrainian workers in Poland. More and more of them want to work legally in civilized conditions and have the guarantee that in case of illness, they can use the free services of Polish medicine.
Will Ukrainian workers take advantage of Polish pension fund?
However, on the other hand, Ukrainian workers who make contributions to the Polish pension and social security fund can’t take unemployment benefits, because they need permanent residence in Poland for that. It is also unknown whether they will ever take advantage of the Polish pension fund.
Keryk explains: "Ukrainian labor migrants give the part of their earnings to Polish pension fund, and it is unknown whether they will take advantage of this fund. Of course, there is a contract between Poland and Ukraine on recognition of contributions to the pension fund, but you need to work in Poland for a long time, then to receive a Polish pension and to be able to use it later, living in Ukraine. "
According to Myroslava Keryk, Polish media openly wrote that Ukrainian labor migration actually is saving Poland from the pension fund deficit. This is especially true in view of the demographic crisis in the country and the Sejm decision to lower the retirement age. "In the case of the Polish pension system, the workers actually help it because Ukrainians who work here rarely take advantage of medical care, social assistance or unemployment benefits. On unemployment benefits can count only those who have the right of permanent residence in Poland, but there are much less of them than of those who is currently working in Poland "- said Keryk.
According to Volodymyr Lykhota’s observations, Ukrainian labor migrants are increasingly looking for possibilities to stay in Poland. And especially qualified employees think about it. "I noticed that less skilled workers do not think about how to stay here, they use visas, when another visa is not valid – they went home, and then return with a new one. Instead, more skilled workers think about how to make a temporary residence card, and maybe even citizenship. They see what is happening in Ukraine and therefore trying to settle here "- said Lykhota.
Experts believe that in case of further deterioration of the economic situation in Ukraine labor migration to Poland would only grow, because the Polish economy is developing and the local labor market needs a lot of workers. As said Myroslava Keryk, without workers from Ukraine such Polish economy sectors as gardening or building would definitely slow its development.