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Better deals for Polish workers

A young union official from Gdansk is joining the North West TUC this Autumn to help thousands of Polish workers in the North West of England get a better deal at work.

28 year old Tomasz Laskowski is a national organiser for Solidarnosc, the Polish trade union once headed by Lech Walesa who led the shipyard strike that signalled the beginning of the end of communism in Europe. The TUC hope that Laskowski will help overcome cultural and language barriers that might prevent Polish workers from joing British trade unions.

Some Polish workers who have come to the UK hoping to earn five times as much as they did at home have discovered that working conditions are not as good as they expected. Complaints about not being paid the minimum wage, not being given an employment contract or national insurance number and being made to work excessively long hours are common.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Not every Polish worker who comes to live and work in the UK has a hard time, but unfortunately many do. The TUC and unions in the North West are determined to stop unscrupulous employers from using a poor command of English and an ignorance of UK employment law as an excuse to treat Polish nationals less favourably than anyone else.

'The best protection anyone can have against ill-treatment at work is to belong to a trade union but many Polish workers don't know how to contact a trade union over here. Similarly the language barrier has made UK unions unsure of how to reach out to and recruit migrant workers.

'Having Tomasz working with the TUC for three months will provide a massive boost to union recruitment efforts throughout the North West. We hope that young Polish workers will not only win a better deal at work, but will be encouraged to join a Polish union when and if they return home.'


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