European Nations to Open Markets in Poland

European Nations to Open Markets in Poland

WARSAW, Poland — Maja Checinska is reaping the rewards of waiting.

For several weeks, the Polish architect has been living in a Madrid apartment, biding her time until a construction company can legally put her on the payroll. She's been promised a cash bonus for her patience _ her only instructions being to familiarize herself with Spanish building norms and refuse all other job offers.

Checinska owes her luck to new labor rules: On May 1, Spain, Portugal and Finland join Britain, Ireland and Sweden in ending all restrictions to workers from new EU member states.

"My new company really wanted me because they plan to open an office in Poland in a couple of years and see me as someone who can help them with that," said Checinska, 25. "But they wanted to hire me legally _ and without the bother of applying for any special documents."

For young workers from Poland and the seven other former Soviet bloc countries that joined the EU in 2004, the gradual labor market liberalization has meant opportunities their parents' generation could hardly have imagined.

Some of the workers benefiting from the lifting of labor restrictions are so young they lose sight of the historic change this marks for Poles, Lithuanians, Czechs and the others who, until 16 years ago, were trapped behind the Iron Curtain and banned from traveling freely to the West.

In the case of Checinska, her parents faced the frightening choice of emigrating to Australia for good or sticking it out under communism _ and chose to stay. "I'm living out their dreams now," Checinska said.

Since 2004, the new EU members _ eight eastern European countries along with Malta and Cyprus _ have seen their citizens board budget flights to Britain, Ireland and Sweden in large numbers to seek jobs.

No country has sent more workers than Poland, whose 38 million people make it the largest EU newcomer by far, and whose jobless rate of 18 percent _ the highest in the EU _ pushes many, especially the young, to seek a better life elsewhere. About 200,000 Poles have registered to work in Britain since 2004, with some 100,000 in Ireland and 8,000 in Sweden.

But even more _ up to 1 million Poles _ are believed to be working now throughout Europe, sometimes illegally in countries like Germany that haven't formally opened their labor markets, said Krystyna Iglicka, a migration expert with the Center of International Relations in Warsaw.

Nine old EU member states _ including Germany and France _ are expected to maintain restrictions on workers from EU newcomers for at least another two years.

Though May marks a new stage in the expanding labor market, migration experts expect the new round of departures to pale in comparison with the large numbers that have already left for Britain and Ireland _ whose strong economies and low jobless rates make them the biggest draw.

Other factors include the strong pound, which Poles can exchange for Polish zlotys at advantageous rates; the fluency in English many Poles already have; and a tradition going back to World War II of mass migrations of Poles to Britain _ where Poland's government-in-exile was also based during the Nazi occupation.

Those networks mean newcomers often have family and friends there to help them get started, Iglicka said.

But as they launch their new lives and help ease the crisis of high unemployment for their home countries, these modern migrants are also presenting new challenges to the lands they leave behind.

"In this situation, you lose the most active elements because the less exciting people stay at home and drink," said Krzysztof Bobinski, an analyst at Unia & Polska, a pro-EU organization. "I wouldn't call it a 'brain drain' because that term makes me think of rocket scientists. But it is a hemorrhaging and I don't think it's going to do Poland any good in the long run."

Emigration is also depriving Poland and the neighboring Baltics of much-needed labor, threatening to slow some of the EU's fastest-growing economies. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which are home to just 7.2 million residents, estimate the numbers that have left are in the tens of thousands _ possibly more.

Poland has already noticed a dangerous shortage of anesthesiologists. And the western Polish city of Wroclaw is so concerned departures could cause a shortage of skilled workers in coming years _ and dampen a local investment boom _ that it plans an advertising campaign in Britain this September letting Poles know attractive jobs await them back home.

Baltic construction companies have been particularly hard hit, and several have begun looking east to Russia and Belarus for workers.

Lithuanian Rimantas Bublys said his company, Vigysta, had to cast aside any and all standards for employee behavior just to keep its projects moving forward.

"Two years ago we used to fire our workers who were lazy or had drinking problems," Byblys said. "Today we cannot afford to fire anyone because there are no replacements available. Our business would simply stop."


Associated Press writers Tim Jacobs in Latvia, Liudas Dapkus in Lithuania, Jari Tanner in Estonia and Pablo Gorondi in Hungary contributed to this report.

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Stock investors in Poland slow down before the long weekend

Stock investors in Poland slow down before the long weekend

The WIG20 index rebounded 0.83 percent on Friday and ended the week above last week’s level despite Thursday falls.

Within last week, the 20 share blue chips index grew 0.24 percent to 3,193.27 points. Today, shares of blue chips worth PLN 783m changed hands, including PLN 262 of KGHM stock. A day ago it was PLN 1.23 billion. The decrease was widely expected before the long weekend in Poland with Monday and Wednesday with the stock exchange closed.

KGHM copper producer rebounded half of yesterday’s loss and ended 3.7 percent up at PLN 112.5. Grupa Kety grew 5.3 percent to PLN 140. Fuel companies Lotos and PKN Orlen as well as PKO BP bank rebounded after yesterday’s losses. Pekao bank and Bioton insulin producer continued their decrease. Skotan was the best performer in the last week – the stock has gained 85 percent after the company said it would build its bio diesel plants in Torun and near Krakow.

Out of small caps, Drozapol was the best performer with 6.6 percent jump. The company expects to raise its sales to PLN 400m and net income to PLN 12-16m within two years.

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New EWS Wagons from Poland and Romania

New EWS Wagons from Poland and Romania
British freight operator EWS ordered 368 new freight wagons. The first part will soon enter into service the rest are still being built.
A major part of the order is being built in Central European manufacturing facilties. Polish rolling stock manufacturers will deliver 145 new tank wagons for EWS's contract with the Total Fina Elf oil company. The wagons are expected to arrive into the UK by the end of May. They will be delivered in batches of ten a week until all are delivered.

68 aggregate hoppers are currently being constructed in Romania, with the first set of these wagons due to be delivered by June. All of these wagons are expected to be delivered to EWS by the end of October.

EWS says the new fleet, such as 'omindeck' wagons for carrying steel, will enable the company to win new freight volumes to the railway as it targets traffic which currently only goes by road, making progress on EWS's plans to increase rail freight volumes in Britain.

The 155 omindeck wagons have gone through an extensive design phase, and tenders have been issued for the construction of these wagons to be delivered to EWS by the end of the year.

EWS says these wagons have been designed for its steel industry customers and will be multi-purpose, enabling current road-only freight movements to be won to rail for the first time.

EWS has invested in over 3,000 new wagons since the company was formed ten years ago.

(Source: Railnews.co.uk, Railway Market magazine, 28 April 2006)

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