The rights of migrants and refugees in the labour market in Poland. The second workshop of the MIGRIGHT project

The second workshop of the MIGRIGHT project, devoted to the rights of migrants and refugees in the labour market in Poland, was held on 18–19 March.

The aim of the MIGRIGHT project workshop series is to develop a so-called toolkit, i.e. a set of practical guidelines for social and civil dialogue in Poland, supporting the shaping of an environment friendly to discussing the rights of migrant workers and refugees and ensuring them decent working conditions.

This issue is important because the number of foreigners in Poland is growing. In 2020, almost 144.5 thousand temporary residence permits were granted to foreign nationals, while in 2019 the number was less than 140 thousand.

The March meeting, organised in an online format, was attended by representatives of Polish companies, business organisations, trade unions, state administration and NGOs. The workshop opened with a presentation of a Norwegian case study on a programme promoting fast track entry into the labour market for newly arrived refugees. This initiative was launched in 2015 by the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprises (NHO) and the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), and involved various stakeholders, primarily the Norwegian public employment services, trade unions and companies. Many refugees found employment thanks to this programme. The participants in the workshop considered that the introduction of such a solution in Poland would be possible on the condition of involvement of relevant actors at the poviat and commune levels, proper coordination (which could be the responsibility of, for example, Voivodeship Social Dialogue Councils), ensuring funding and political will.

During the workshop, many issues were raised concerning working conditions, remuneration, equal treatment and legal protection of working migrants and refugees in Poland. The issue of cooperation of different stakeholder groups for decent work of migrants and refugees was discussed on the example of the work of the Working Group on Relations with Workers operating under the Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy. The Group focuses its activities around two issues: forced labour and the promotion of safe and sustainable working environments. To date, it has developed, among other things, a draft definition of forced labour and a guide for businesses and others on how to recognize and prevent forced labour.

Participants at the workshop agreed that similar initiatives have a greater chance of success if people with the right skills and knowledge are brought together at the same table and sufficient time is allowed for results to be developed. It was also seen as crucial that the people working together have a common goal and that the subject of discussion is important to them.

The workshop was organised as part of the project “MIGRIGHT: Strengthening social dialogue for decent work for migrants and refugees in Poland”. The project leader is the Federation of Polish Entrepreneurs and the partners are the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions, CASE - Centre for Social and Economic Research, and NHO.

The MIGRIGHT project is implemented with support from Norway through the Norwegian Funds 2014–2021, under the programme “Social Dialogue – Decent Work”.