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Poland expects fewer workers to go abroad as economy develops

Interview

Poland expects fewer workers to head abroad for work as the economy develops and eases concern over an exodus of skilled employees, President Lech Kaczynski said.

„Naturally in Poland there are difficulties in finding qualified workers, but wages and salaries have got better,” Kaczynski said on a visit to Edinburgh. The departure of people to places such as Scotland „we are treating as an interim arrangement,” he said at a press conference. Poland's unemployment rate dropped to 14.9% in October from 18% at the beginning of the year, the highest in the European Union. While some of that Kaczynski put down to „rapid economic development,” a lot is due to migration, he said.

More than 20,000 Poles have come to Scotland for jobs and studies since the UK opened up its labor market to the former communist countries that joined the European Union in 2004. Edinburgh has Polish bus drivers and café workers as well as teachers and physiotherapists, while Polish bakeries and grocery stores have opened up in the Scottish capital. Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell said Scotland and Poland had cemented ties that go back to the 17th century. There are now more than 20 direct flights a week linking the two counties and Poles are helping foster economic growth, he said. „I can only hope they will eventually return to Poland,” said Kaczynski. „If Poland continues to develop at the present pace then the process of Poles going abroad will phase out.” Kaczynski's twin brother, Jaroslaw, is Poland's prime minister. They are founders of the conservative Law & Justice party, which won elections in September 2005 on an anti-corruption platform and pledged a „moral revolution.”

The party governs with the Polish Families' League, which advocates policies that adhere to the Catholic faith, including a clampdown on gay rights, and Self Defense, which favors higher state spending and opposed Poland's EU membership. As the press conference continued, a group of about 30 Polish anti-government protesters shouted slogans outside. They carried placards such as „tolerance, equality, freedom.” (Bloomberg)

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