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Polish outrage at 'second-class' status

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11:09 CEST+02:00

Poland has expressed its deep dissatisfaction with Switzerland's decision to slash the number of work permits it grants to the citizens of eight EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe.

In response to the move, the Polish foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, advised his people to boycott Switzerland as a holiday destination as well as all Swiss products for as long as the restrictions remain in place, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza meanwhile noted that Poles are being “treated like second-class people”. In addition, the newspaper went on to say that Switzerland’s economic difficulties were not caused by the immigration of Polish workers, wrote Tages Anzeiger.

Switzerland remains an attractive country for Polish workers, who face rising unemployment in their home country. Swiss wages are higher than in neighbouring Germany, where companies sometimes pay Polish workers only half of the amount paid to German workers. In addition, Switzerland is considered to be more open and fairer than Germany.

Looking at the German example, many German critics feared negative consequences from the influx of Polish workers, but the fears were exaggerated, Herbert Brücker from the Nuremberg Institute for Labour Market and Occupational Research told Tages Anzeiger.

“The people coming to us from the East are becoming better and better qualified,” he said.

“I do not see a threat of rising unemployment and falling wages. It’s not a revolution.”

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