Poland needs immigrants for its labor market: PM Morawiecki

PM Morawiecki sees Poland having little choice but to compete for foreign workers. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

PM Mateusz Morawiecki has admitted Poland needs immigrants to boost its labor market.

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In an interview with the “Sieci” weekly, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke about inequalities, refugees and Poland’s potential to...

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In an interview published on Monday 2 July in “Sieci” the PM made clear that Poland’s economic development requires Poland to admit migrants who can fill job vacancies.

Poland’s PM Mateusz Morawicki took advantage of an interview in “Sieci” to explain to supporters of the governing party his thinking on the issue of immigration. The current Polish government has opposed the compulsory EU quotas for the reallocation of refugees from the Middle East. However, the same government has been welcoming to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian migrants as well as job seekers from Asia.

PM Morawiecki sees Poland having little choice but to compete for foreign workers.

“If there is a demand on the labor market which Poles are unable or unwilling to meet, we need to take up the challenge so that we maintain our economic growth. There are three factors which affect the growth of our GDP: capital, labor and technology. We still lack capital….technology takes years to develop, so we need labor…With unemployment, which Eurostat calculates to be 3.8 percent, and low labor mobility our reserves are low, yet we have a decade of key infrastructural investments ahead of us.

Asked about the fact that the shortage of labor is being used by unscrupulous people to bring in migrants who use Poland as just a stop on the way to western countries Mr Morawiecki acknowledged the need for tight checks. However, he chose to emphasize the need for more labor. “From every corner of Poland, I hear pleas for more hands and heads to do the work available. We have estimates that already there is a shortage of 150,000 of workers in Poland. I wish that at least a part of the people who left Poland in the early Noughties would return. Many already have, but we need more. Without labor, we won’t be able to attract investments.”

The Polish PM countered the view that immigrants from Asia and Ukraine were reducing the level of pay increases in Poland and thereby encouraging Poles to leave their homeland for job markets with higher earnings. “ Pay rises in Poland are currently running at three times the inflation rate, are considerably higher than the increase in productivity and are at the highest level for 25 years. I don’t hear employers or the unions complaining that pay is rising too slowly.”

Commenting on Poland’s GDP growth which has reached 5 percent the Prime Minister urged caution. “All analyses point to the level of growth of GDP falling to 4 percent per annum as we lack the people to do the jobs…We have 350,000 people entering the labor market every year, but we also have 500,000 leaving it. The ranks of the retired are being swelled by the generation from the post-war demographic boom.“

The Prime Minister is signaling to his political backers that immigration is important for Poland’s development. This may not sit comfortably with some supporters of the governing party, who have resisted immigration from distant cultures. Morawiecki is saying to them that the needs of the economy should come first if Poland is to maintain its impressive rate of economic growth in the future.

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