Ex-presidents demand more rights for Ukrainian workers

Former presidents Bronislaw Komorowski and Aleksander Kwasniewski. Andrzej Lange/PAP

Former presidents Bronislaw Komorowski and Aleksander Kwasniewski on Tuesday appealed for more rights for Ukrainians employed in Poland.

The appeal came in response to the EU's January-introduced changes in migration laws for Ukrainians, which enable them easier travel to western Europe. According to the presidents, this could result in their outflow from Poland.

In their appeal, the presidents suggested the introduction of more transparent employment procedures for Ukrainians in Poland, especially with regard to work permits.

Komorowski told a press conference in Warsaw that Poland's economy may not be prepared for a large exodus of Ukrainians. "As Poland, we must answer several important questions as to whether we are prepared to handle (...) the outflow of the economically important Ukrainian workforce," Komorowski said.

According to Komorowski, young Ukrainians and Poles should build bridges regardless of the historical turbulencies between both countries.

Kwasniewski warned that excessive red tape forced increasing numbers of Ukrainians to seek work in the grey zone, which deprived Poland of their taxes and social security dues. He also said that migration was not a passing issue and would continue throughout the 21st century, which called for a more comprehensive approach to migration

Both presidents criticised the government's failure to come up with strategic solutions for the problem, and appealed for a long-term migration policy.