Case Study - Trades Union Organising in the New Europe: Workers from Poland

The TUC in the North West recognises the growing importance that migrant workers have for the regional economy. In 2005 we ran a project to test a number of approaches. We sought contacts with exiting Polish community organisations in the North West. The main sources of initial information were web based and we also contacted the Federation of Poles in Great Britain, the main national umbrella organisation in the UK. We also got details of a number of Churches that serve the Polish Community in the North West, for example, the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool which holds weekly services in Polish. We had also contacted a language-based project in Liverpool that offered support to newly arrived workers from Poland.

A number of key unions in the region provided us with information on where Polish migrant workers were being employed and we confirmed that logistics and road haulage, foundries and engineering, food processing and construction were sectors in which unions were aware of significant numbers of Polish workers. The Polish Trade Union, Solidarnosc were very keen to get involved and we were very fortunate to be able to agree the secondment of a young national organiser who was leading their campaign to organise Tesco in Poland and who had a lot of contact already with UK unions. He worked with us for a very intensive three month period and he worked on community initiatives and specific campaigns with individual unions.
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