It's been two years since Poland joined the EU

May 1st is at the same time an anniversary of Poland’s entry into the European Union. It was 2 years ago that Poland, together with 9 other countries, became a full member of the bloc. While the first year of membership was generally assessed positively, the other one witnessed a crisis. Observers and analysts agree that the latest 12 months of enlarged European Union were dominated by the suspension of the ratification of the EU Constitution, stormy negotiations on the 2007-2013 budget or the opposition of some old EU member states to the liberalization of the services market.
Poland’s efforts to enter the EU began in 1992 and it was on May 1st 2004 that 10 countries, Poland among them, joined the 15-member bloc.

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FalconStor Wins in Poland

FalconStor Software, Inc., the leading developer of proven data protection solutions, today announced that the Wroclaw Centre for Networking and Supercomputing (WCNS), one of Poland's leading academic centers for technology excellence, has deployed FalconStor's IPStor(R) software to consolidate 2TB of fragmented, difficult-to-manage data stored on direct-attached storage across its network. The institution's network comprises hundreds of heterogeneous servers running various flavors of Irix, Linux, Solaris, and Unix. FalconStor partnered with Polcom to integrate the IPStor solution at WCNS.

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Poland’s productivity growth races ahead (FT.com)

When the shifts change, hundreds of workers stream out of the new television factory in Mlawa owned by LG Electronics, the South Korean company. Its managers may be surprised to learn that LGE’s Polish workers may well be more productive than their counterparts in South Korea.

A report by the Conference Board, a research company, has found that Poland’s productivity growth accelerated by 7.7 per cent last year, second to China and much higher than the rich economies of western Europe or the US. It calculated that gross domestic product per hour worked was $19.90 for Polish workers, outpacing the $19.40 for South Korea.

But Polish productivity is still less than half the average of west European countries, and trails most of its ex-communist neighbours.

David Yoon, human resources director at the LGE factory about 100km north of Warsaw, says that Polish workers were initially unhappy about some of his company’s management techniques, such as hanging large signs above the production line exhorting workers to “Get it right the first time”, and “Don’t say ‘No’ but seek alternative solutions”.

“Some of the older workers said it reminded them of communist times, but now they are used to it,” he says.

The Korean company is setting up training programmes as it starts to exhaust the local talent pool of workers for the factory, which has become LGE’s main European flat-screen television set producer.

“The fundamentals of Polish workers are not bad,” says Mr Yoon. “And once they have been taught a technique, they stick to it exactly. Every month, we break production records.”

The Koreans are not the only ones impressed with the quality of their Polish workers.

A recent study by KPMG, the auditing company, found that most foreign investors were impressed by the high level of qualification in their Polish workforces.

Poland’s rapid leap in productivity is taking place in spite of the drag caused by the 20 per cent of the Polish workforce that is employed in agriculture – producing only 3 per cent of GDP. The country also has the highest level of unemployment in the European Union, at 17.8 per cent, and the lowest level of labour participation in the OECD, the world’s most industrialised countries.

Many of those out of work are unemployable in a modern economy and some Polish companies are experiencing difficulty in finding qualified workers. A recent study by Poland’s central bank found that 42 per cent of firms had trouble finding qualified workers.

The booming city of Wroclaw in western Poland is trying to lure expatriates working in the UK to return home to take up jobs with the many foreign companies relocating there.

Although Polish companies restructured following the slump in the economy in 2001-2002, the fastest productivity growth is found in businesses owned by foreign investors.

“Productivity is higher for most foreign investors than for the average Polish company, since investors build new, modern facilities using the latest technology and operations design know-how” says Michal Kwiecinski, of McKinsey & Company, the management consultants.

“Very often, their productivity is even higher than in their home country facilities, because companies tend to optimise their processes in parallel to transferring production or service centres to Poland.”

That is the case with LGE, which has expanded so rapidly in Poland that it quickly outgrew the factory built in 2004, when it began production in Mlawa. It has now moved into a much larger new factory.

Other plants are being built by the company near Wroclaw in a joint venture with Philips of the Netherlands.

Polish salaries, although much lower than western Europe, are 200 per cent higher than in LGE’s factories in China and Indonesia, and went up 6 per cent last year.

But LGE has no plans to reduce its Polish investment.

“We can overcome wage differences by productivity,” says Mr Yoon.

(By Jan Cienski, FT)

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Cognis Poland gains ISO 9001 certification

The Polish affiliate of global specialty chemicals supplier Cognis has gained ISO 9001 certification for its quality management systems, after successfully passing an audit of its two sites carried out by the DQS (German Association for the Certification of Management Systems). The certification further strengthens Cognis' position in the Central and Eastern Europe region, particularly in the food technology market.
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ISO 9001 certification attests to the excellence of Cognis Poland's quality management system, both at its head office in Warsaw and its plant in Brzesc Kujawski. In their report, the auditors reserved particular praise for the clarity and intelligibility of the company's quality management systems, and commented on the high level of motivation among employees, especially in the areas of occupational health and safety and customer satisfaction. Furthermore, the manufacturing infrastructure at the Brze Kujawski site was described as facilitating high quality at every stage of the production process, and being maintained in a very clean condition.

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Poland's Mayday schedule

Poland celebrates Mayday on the 1st of May. It also celebrates the May 3rd constitution on May 3rd. Due to the days of the week on which these dates fall this year, many people in Poland have taken a 9 day vacation.

For the most, part most businesses in Poland are shut down from Saturday the 29th of April on till Wednesday the 3rd of May. Many employees, however, have taken the opportunity to add two vacation days to this schedule which has left many businesses short of people. The businesses have, therefore, chosen to shutdown or go into reduced operations until next week.

Even though the calendar schedule has been beneficial to people who want to take long vacations without having to charge too much vacation charge to their accounts, the weather has been most the uncooperative and has been simply cold and wet. So the good has come the bad.

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