Working Lives: Krakow
- 13 April 2012
- From the section World Radio and TV
Ryszard Wilk is a highly skilled process engineer at the Tadeusz Sendzimir Steelworks in Nowa Huta in eastern Krakow.
Opened in 1954 as the Vladimir Lenin Steelworks and hailed as a Soviet success, the plant reflects Poland's past. With the fall of communism it was renamed after a Polish inventor and is now owned by the international conglomerate ArcelorMittal.
Mr Wilk is very conscious of the historic significance of his work place. Had he been there in the 1970s he would have been one of nearly 40,000 employees with a job for life. Today he is one of only 4,300 people working there. The average wage there is around $1,500 (£940) a month.
Mr Wilk ensures the steel slab which comes out of the blast furnace red hot is rolled into a sheet only a few millimetres thick. The hot strip mill is one of the most modern in Europe and he jokes it is like walking out of the Stone Age onto the streets of Manhattan.
Most of his spare time is taken up by his music. He plays bass guitar in a rock band. Although he is an accomplished musician he says he would never give up his job at the steelworks.