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   Inside Out England: Monday November 13, 2006
Exclusive survey
Polish worlers leaving for UK c/o Getty Images
Destination England - Polish workers leave to find work.
Photo c/o Getty Images

Eastern European Immigration Special

Every day, seventy flights touch down at UK airports carrying passengers from the new Eastern Europe chasing a dream.

Many of our city centres are being transformed with the help of Polish plumbers, Latvian brickies and Hungarian lift engineers.

They're changing the face of the UK from the local skyline to the food in our shops.

But what do local people think about this friendly invasion from the new Europe?

Read your comments in full below...

Inside Out England looks at the issues involved in a special investigation.

Read the full survey results

Opening borders

Two years ago the UK's borders were opened up to workers from eight Eastern European countries.

The government thought 30,000 people would come to work, but 20 times that number arrived.

Everyone has a view on the pros and cons of large numbers of Eastern European workers coming to the UK.

Exclusive Inside Out England/NOP survey and photo gallery

Inside Out commissioned a special NOP survey to find out what people across England think about migrant workers.

Nine hundred and ninety seven adults aged 16+ were interviewed on the GfK NOP Telebus during the weekend of 20- 22 October 2006.

The survey was designed to be nationally representative of the telephone owning population of the UK.

The results confirm that more than more than half of UK adults (53%) agree that the recent arrival of migrant workers from Eastern Europe is making it harder for UK citizens to get jobs.

email your views to

Those in social group DE are particularly likely to agree (62%).

More than a quarter of adults agree strongly that wages are being driven down because of the recent arrival of migrant workers from Eastern Europe.

Again it's those in social group DE who are most likely to agree with AB adults being the most likely to disagree.

Visit the survey gallery

Hard workers?

Interestingly more than two thirds of the population agree that these migrant workers are hard workers who benefit our economy.

When it comes to the statement, "The recent arrival of migrant workers… is putting an increased strain on our hospitals, schools and benefits systems", nearly three quarters of the population agree, with 44% agreeing strongly.

But half the adult UK population agree that the recent arrival of migrant workers from Eastern Europe is a good thing, with 13% agreeing strongly.

Four out of ten disagree and 8% don't know.

Two thirds of you think they're hard workers who really benefit the economy.

It's those in manual work who feel most threatened by the influx of migrant workers.

Visit the survey gallery

Pros and cons

Inside Out has uncovered disturbing evidence that the money and jobs that some migrant workers are promised may disappear as soon as they reach our shores.

It's migrant workers who put a lot of this food on the market,and more than 57 per cent of people polled for our Inside Out/NOP survey felt the new arrivals were being exploited by food producers.

Workers c/o PA Images
Exploitation or a fair wage? Are workers getting a good deal?

When this group were asked if they would be prepared to pay higher prices for their fruit and vegetables if it meant that the migrant workers suffered less exploitation, more than half said 'Yes' they would.

A quarter said 'No' and 14% said it depended on how much the price increase was.

The respondents were then asked if they agreed or disagreed that restrictions should be placed on the numbers of Romanian and Bulgarian workers allowed into the UK when those countries enter the EU in January 2007.

Nearly four out of five agreed that restrictions should be put into place with 55% agreeing strongly.

Have your say...


We want your comments and experiences...

If you're an Eastern European worker, how do you feel about working and living in England?

What are your concerns and worries? What problems have you encountered?

What are the best and worst things about living in England?

Do you feel exploited as a worker or are you happy and well-paid?

Or perhaps you're English and want to express your feelings, positive and negative, about the influx of Eastern European workers?

Tell us how you feel in our big debate.

Read more of your comments in English and Polish...

Part two - your comments
Part three - your comments

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Immigration Special - Readers' Comments

A selection of your comments in English and Polish...

I've been living in the UK for two years now and I totally agree with the opinion that many British employers prefer Polish workers as they work hard and unfortunately they know they can pay them less which is unfair. Polish people are often disadvantaged because they don't know British employment law and general rules of the British labour market. There should be services provided to migrant workers where they could learn about their rights.

Jestem w Anglii od prawie dwóch lat i calkowicie zgadzam sie z opinia, ze pracodawcy chetniej zatrudniaja Polaków, a to z tego wzgledu, iz rzetelnie wykonuja swoja prace, ale jest tez i druga strona, niesprawiedliwoscia jest fakt, iz placa nam nizsze stawki za wykonywana prace anizeli Brytyjczykom. Naszym najwiekszym problemem jest nieznajomosc prawa angielskiego, oraz zasad rynku pracy, przez co przyjmujemy kazde warunki, aby tylko prace miec-mysle, ze wielu z nas potrzebowaloby porady na podobne tematy. Monika

Eastern European workers may be earning 4-6 times their salaries but since their arrival my earnings have been cut by almost half.

Pracownicy z Europy Srodkowo-Wschodniej moze i zarabiaja 4 do 6 razy wiecej niz w swoim wlasnym kraju ale odkad pojawili sie w moim miescie moje zarobki zostaly obciete prawie o polowe. Jonathan

I have been working for 20 years as a property maintenance - since the Russians and Poles have come to England, my work has gone down hill, Yes they do work hard, but there are 10 people living in one house. If you've got a mortage, you can't lower your prices. Bob Fenton

Od 20 lat pracuje jako konserwator posiadlosci ale odkad Polacy i Rosjanie zaczeli przyjezdzac do naszego kraju dostaje coraz mnie zlecen. Zgadzam sie z tym, ze Polacy ciezko pracuja i oszczedzaja pieniadze, tylko jakim kosztem, zyjac w 10 osob w jednym domu? Ja mam kredyt hipoteczny do splacenia I nie moge obnizyc stawek za swoja prace. Bob Fenton

No wonder people get ripped off for work when they come here. There are thieves wherever you work in the world, so what is the lesson?... do your research before you go! Keep your eyes and ears open, and above all... learn the language of the country that you will be working in! Simple isn't it? I agree with many comments raised in the programme. I myself will be going off to live in another country (New Zealand or Finland) as I am a mental health nurse in training and the opportunities are just not in the UK anymore. Nurse

Nic dziwnego, ze pracownicy z Polski sa oszukiwani gdy przyjezdzaja do Wielkiej Brytanii. Zlodzieje i oszusci zyja na calym swiecie. Polacy powinni przygotowac sie przed wyjazdem, trzymac oczy i uszy otwarte i przede wszystkim nauczyc sie jezyka kraju w ktorym chca pracowac. Zgadzam sie z wieloma sprawami poruszonymi w programie. Sam wkrotce wybieram sie do pracy w Nowej Zelandii lub Finlandii poniewaz chce zdobyc doswiadczenie jako pielegniarz osob umyslowo chorych a w Wilekiej Bryatnii nie ma mozliwosci stazu w tej dziedzinie.

I think there are to many Polish and others nationalities in this country. I left the Royal Navy in 2006 and retrained as a plumber. I worked hard to get my qualifications and could not get a job anywhere. These people are coming over here and taking the jobs we have been trained for - what a waste of tax payers money, in my case £2,800. Cheap labour from them and most of the jobs have to be repaired by people that know what they are doing. Just to let you know I would not have a person from another country in my house to do any jobs.
One upset British Citizen

Uwazam, ze w Wielkiej Brytanii jest za duzo obcokrajowcow wlaczajac w to Polakow. Opuscilem Flote Brytyjska w 2006 roku i przekwalifikowalem sie jako hydraulik. Wlozylem duzo pracy w zdobycie nowych kwalifikacji ale teraz nie moge nigdzie znalesc pracy. Pracownicy z Europy Srodkowo-Wschodniej zabieraja nie tylko nisko platne pozycje ale prace ktore my Brytyjczycy chcemy wykonywac. Moj kurs hydraulika kosztowal mnie £2800. Tania sila robocza bardzo czesto oznacza brak kompetencji. Ja osobiscie nigdy nie zatrudnilbym nikogo z innym niz Brytyjski paszportem.
niezadowolony obywatel Wielkiej Brytanii

I wonder if the question will be raised of where all these migrant workers are being housed? We are living next to a three bedroomed house which at times is housing up to 12 people at a time. For two years we have had to endure anti social behaviour and fighting between different nationalities to name a few. The owner of this property does not care as long as he is getting paid his rent each week. Mr Walker

Interesujacy program. Ciekawi mnie jednak czy wyjasnicie, gdzie ci wszyscy imigranci z Europy Srodkowo-Wschodniej mieszkaja. Ja z zona mieszkamy obok trzypokojowego domu, w ktorym czasem mieszka nawet do 12 imigrantow. Od dwoch lat musimy znosic klotnie dochodzace z sasiedztwa, czesto z powodu roznic kulturowych miedzy ludzmi mieszkajacymi za sciana. Wlasciciel posiadlosci twierdzi, ze jest mu wszystko jedno ile ludzi mieszka w domu i jesli tylko placa czynsz on nie ma nic przeciwko. Mr Walker

I am white British, 48, female and would take absolutely any of the jobs shown being done by Poles in this country today. The way the current economy is being run will soon create social conditions that are a lot worse for the indigenous British population than currently exist for Poles in Poland today. Where can we emigrate to? There's nowhere to go, is there? I refuse to buy products and services from firms I can identify as employing them in preference to our own. Anonymous

Jestem biala, 48- letnia obywatelka Wielkiej Brytanii chetna do wykonywania jakiejkolwiek pracy oferowanej Polakom w naszym kraju. Sposob w jaki brytyjska gospodarka jest teraz zarzadzana wkrotce doprowadzi do tak niskich warunkow zycia dla Brytyjskich obywateli przed jakimi Polacy uciekaja ze swojego kraju. Tylko gdzie my uciekniemy? Ja osobiscie odmawiam zakupu produktow jezeli wiem ze wyprodukowane zostaly przez imigrantow a nie Brytyjczykow. Anonymous

As a resident of Blackpool, I'm quite happy to welcome all to the town. However, what does concern me is that with the increase in the number of white Europeans in the town, many of the none-whites are being relegated to more 'unnatractive' jobs. The only place you will find none-whites allowed to work, in many pubs and clubs, is as toilet attendants... Blackpool has replaced racism with 'colourism'. Pat

Jako mieszkaniec Blackpool z zadowoleniem witam wszystkich nowo przybylych w moim miescie. Jednakze co mnie martwi to, ze odkad biali Europejczycy pojawili sie w miescie,inne przedstaiciele innych ras sa oddelegowywani do mniej atrakcyjnych miejsc pracy. Jedyne miejsca gdzie teraz pracuja inni niz biali ludzie to toalety. Blackpool pomalu przeksztalca rasizm w 'koloryzm' co kolwiek to oznacza. Pat

I've just seen your programme and I totally disagree with the opinion that Polish workers are taking British jobs! There are hundreds of jobs in this country that no one wants to do because they don't like the salary. Polish people are happy to work even for lower wages as they appreciate how good it is to have a job in a first place. And once we have a job we work to the best of our abilities because we want to maintain it. Polish people whose English is not very good are trying even harder to impress their employers with their work and make up for the fact that they can't speak the language very well.

A few months ago when there weren't that many Poles, British people were praising us for coming to Britain and doing all the unwanted jobs. Now you are complaining there are too many of us. You should be happy that Polish people are working hard and don't cause any trouble. I dare to think who will drive your buses, pick up your fruits, look after your teeth and provide care for your old people, etc. if we leave. Dagmara

Wlasnie obejrzalam Wasz program i absolutnie nie zgadzam sie z opinia ze Polacy odbieraja miejsca pracy Anglikom!!! w tym kraju jest mnóstwo pracy, której nie podejmuja sie Anglicy ze wzgledu na niskie zarobki, Polacy natomiast nie maja nic przeciwko temu aby pracowac za nizsze stawki-my cenimy fakt, ze prace mamy, a nawet powiem wiecej pracujemy lepiej niz niejeden Brytyjczyk, poniewaz nam zalezy na jej utrzymaniu. Wielu Polaków nawet nie jest w stanie mówic po Angielsku- tym bardziej beda robic wszystko aby tej pracy nie stracic. Rynek pracy w Anglii jest olbrzymi i nalezy dac szanse kazdemu, tymbardziej, ze chetnych do jej wykonania jest bardzo malo-jeszcze pare miesiecy temu gdy nie bylo az tak wielu Polaków to Anglicy byli zadowoleni z faktu, ze wreszcie znalezli ludzi do tak zwanej " brudnej roboty", a teraz sa oburzeni, ze odbieramy im miejsca pracy??? Powinni sie cieszyc z faktu, ze znalezli tanich a dobrych pracowników. Dagmara

I'm amazed at the arrogance of the 'BIG' bosses exploiting these people - of course these people are hungry for a taste of British life and money, I welcome them in my town. Would Mr CBI be pleased if his job went to someone at such knock down prices - I think not, he should be sent on an exchange programme to experience theire lives and see how the other half live. Ben

Jestem zaskoczony arogancja szefa firmy przedstawionej w programie, ktory wykorzystuje Polakow. Ci ludzie chca sprobowac smaku Brytyjskiego zycia i pieniedzy. Ja serdecznie ich witam w moim miescie. Ciekaw jestem co powiedzialby ten szef gdyby jego pozycja zostala przejeta przez kogos innego na tak niskich zrobkach. Wydaje mi sie ze nie bardzo by mu sie to podobalo. Powinni go wyslac na 'wymiane miedzynarodowa' aby sam doswiadczyl jak zyja jego pracownicy. Ben

Whilst I have no problem with people trying to better themselves, I find myself in the position of being worse off than any migrant worker. I cannot find any kind of job at all even for basic minimum wage or lower. After a life time of raising my family I now find myself in poverty. There are no jobs in and around Dover for people with no recognised qualifications.

I was a care worker for many years but had to give that up because of arthritis. Now I am going to lose my home because I cannot pay the mortgage, all I will have to look forward to this Christmas is being homeless. I would love one of the jobs we are importing immigrants to do,but not here in the fabulous gateway to England. This is where they come and we can go to the wall. Thank you so much Mr Blair, hope you are nice and cosy this Christmas. As for me, well I will be sleeping rough it would appear, and no freindly Human Rights lawyer prepared to help me. Penny

Choc nie jestem zazdrosny o pozycje innych, to w chwili obecnej uwazam,ze moja sytuacja jest duzo gorsza niz nie jednego pracownika z Polski. Nie moge znalesc zadnej pracy nawet za podstawowa stawke placy. Po latach spedzonych na wychowywaniu moich dzieci i dbaniu o rodzine obecnie zyje w biedzie. W okolicach Dover nie ma zadnych dostepnych miejsc pracy dla ludzi o malych kwalifikacjach. Przez wiele lat bylem opiekunem ale musialem zrezygnowac ze wzgledu na chorobe. Teraz moge stracic dom bo nie stac mnie na splacenie hipoteki. Wszystko czego moge sie spodziewac po tych Swietach Bozego narodzenia to bycia bezdomnym. Bylbym bardzo szczesliwy gdybym dostal prace jaka wykonuja ci pracownicy z Polski ale niestety tu w Dover nie ma takiej mozliwosci. Penny

I am now retired, but spent much of my working life in E Europe between 1976 and 2001, especially in Poland. The Polish people have a very 'British' outlook on life, especially their sense of humour. The communist system, which I experienced first hand in those hard times, gave the Polish people a first class education. Every one of my many friends I still have in Poland and other E European countries enjoyed a start in life as good as the one we have had. They have much to offer our society. Doug Shuttleworth

Jestem obecnie na emeryturze ale w latach 1976-2001 wiekszosc czasu przepracowalem w Polsce. Polacy maja bardzo podobne do Brytyjskiego podejscie do zycia i bardzo podobne poczucie humour. Komunizm w Polsce choc powszechnie ganiony zagwarantowal bardzo dobry system edukacyjny i wyposazyl Polakow w swietne wyksztalcenie. Kazdy z moich Polskich przyjaciol twierdzi, ze w czasach komunistycznych kazdy mial rowny I dobry start. Ci ludzie naprawde moga duzo wniesc do Brytyjskiego spoleczenstwa. Doug Shuttleworth

Many places have built up wages rates which not longer relate to the skills needed. In addition many long serving workers start to feel that the company owes them something and do not always work as hard as the rewards should mean.

At the same time if we have to go and work in France or Spain, etc, they would not entertain us unless we start the steps to learning some basic level of their language, and overseas workers should (and many do) learn this. They should at least take someone with them who can read what they are signing, and ask the correct questions.

Temporary contracts are a blight on employment which does not give the employees any security, nor allow them to get a mortgage, not only overseas workers but many unskilled workers have the same problem.

My only real issue with overseas workers is the language constraints which means they do not understand signs, and cannot communicate with other workers, thus not allowing them to integrate fully. Anon

Ja osobiscie uwazam ze place powinno sie podnosic tylko jesli wzrasta jakosc pracy w firmie. Bardzo czesto zdarza sie, ze pracownicy uwazaja ze firma jest im cos winna choc wcale nie pracuja tak ciezko aby zasluzyc na lepsze wynagrodzenie.
Gdyby obywatele Wielkiej Brytanii pojechali do pracy we Francji lub Hiszpanii na pewno nie dano by im pracy jesli nie znaliby jezyka. Imigranci z Polski powinni zdac sobie sprawe z tego, ze musza mowic po angielsku aby starac sie o lepiej platna prace. Prace czasowe, jakie wykonuja Polacy nie gwarantuja im stalego kontraktu ani prawa do ubiegania sie o hipoteke, ale te same ograniczenia napotykaja brytyjscy nisko-kwalifikowani pracownicy.
Moj jedyny problem z obcokrajowcami, ktorzy mieszkaja i pracuja w tym kraju to fakt, ze powinni uczyc sie jezyka zanim zaczna upominac sie o lepsze wynagrodzenia. Anon

I think Polish immigrants are great immigrants actually. I used to live in Australia - where I used to joke that our Chinese
immigrants made better Australians than we did! Both groups work-hard, study-hard - and focused on their families; and [generally speaking] aren't disruptive to their host communities
on a racial or religious level.

I also think they are already integrating well with the locals on various levels. My bottom line judgement of integration is if after time there is some cross-marriage occurring (implying acceptance from both communities - which we definetly are starting to have). My only concern (as in Australia) is balancing the ability of the host-nation to provide services for them, and to employ and integrate them as well.

At some point (probably rather soon) we may need to start limiting immigration based on job-opportunities and demand in specific skill areas; what really concerns me is that without this we are just exercising a downwards pressure on all UK wages and helping out UK company profits... [and no, not just plumbers either..!] Mark

Polscy imigranci sa super! Gdy mieszkalem w Australii czesto zartowalam, ze chinscy imigranci sa bardziej 'australijscy' niz Australijczycy. Polacy tak jak Chinczycy w Australii ciezko pracuja, dbaja o rodziny i nie powoduja zamieszek na tle rasowym czy religijnym w Wielkiej Braytanii. Mysle ze Polacy doskonale integruja sie z reszta spoelczenstwa, co jest problemem w przypadku innych immigrantow. Jedyne co mnie martwi to jak zapewnimy im rozne uslugi publiczne w przyszlosci. W pewnym momencie najprawdopodobniej bedziemy musieli ograniczyc imigracje i wprowadzic dodatkowe wymagania na przyklad rozne kwalifikacje zawodowe. Bez tych dodatkowych wymagan presja na brytyjskie wynagrodzenia bedzie rosla powodujac olbrzymie niezadowolenie wsrod Brytyjskich pracownikow. Mark

I was employed by a blue chip company some 18 months ago and at this time the team recruited was multinational and included two Polish workers. The Ppolish workers have gone to great lengths to ensure they understand what is required and have read all the manuals available to make the service they provide the best it can be. At present the company is recruiting some fixed term workers and the interviews that I have attended, the eastern European workers are better prepared and more willing to adapt to meet the job requirements - they put some of the British candidates to shame for their lack of preparation. Deric

Gdy pracowalem dla jednej z wiekszych uznanych na scenie miedzynarodowej firm poltora roku temu w tamtym czasie firma zatrudniala dwoch Polakow. Pracownicy z Polski zawsze przywiazywali olbrzymia uwage do tego zeby zrozumiec wszystkie instrukcje i kodeks pracy I w ten sposob byc jak najbardziej skutecznym w tym co robia. W tej chwili firma rekrutuje wiecej pracownikow z Europy Srodkow-Wschodniej i z moich wlasnych obserwacji moge smialo stwierdzic, ze Polacy, ktorzy przychodza na rozmowe o prace sa duzo lepiej przygotowani niz Brytyjczycy. Deric

Who are you all trying to kid? Telling us that all these migrants are good for the growth of Grantham industry is a myth supported only by the cheapskate companies who collectivley save millions of pounds by paying them the minimum wage and working them to limits that local people, quite rightly, will not accept. So rather than pay the local workers what the jobs worth they've shipped in cheap labour regardless of the fact that the Grantham infrastructure struggles to support the local population.

Are these welcoming firms providing doctors, dentists, schools etc? I doubt it, but by providing these people with housing they have re-created the "peasants in tied cottages" scenario that had no moral place in the 18th Century, never mind the 21st Century...

So next time you or yours go for a job, try to see a doctor or dentist, apply for council housing or are told there are no places at your local school remember - "Migrants are good for the growth of Grantham industry!!! " Ian Dudley

Kogo chcecie nabrac mowiac nam, ze imigranci wspieraja brytyjska gospodarke pracujac na niskich stawkach i wykonujc prace, ktorych my nie chcemy? Oni pracuja 'nieziemskie' godziny za stawki, za ktore nie da sie zyc, jesli ma sie rodzinei i hipoteke do splacenia w tym kraju. Rzad brytyjski powinien wprowadzic regulacje tak aby brytyjscy pracownicy byli wynagradzani zgodnie z wartoscia pracy jaka wykonuja zamiast eksploatowac Polakow. Czy te firmy, ktore zatrudniaja Polakow zagwarantuja im tez uslugi publiczne, tj. doktorow, dentystow, szkoly? Watpie! Ciekawe, jakie efekty imigracja wkrotce bedzie miala na kolejki w przychodniach, czy miejsca w szkolach. Ian, Dudley


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