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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
Poland eases rules to fill jobs
Strawberry picking
Poland welcomes foreign workers for fruit-picking
Poland is easing restrictions on workers from Eastern Europe and Turkey to fill labour gaps, following massive Polish migration to Western Europe.

Under a new directive, Russian, Belarussian and Ukrainian farm workers will no longer require work permits for seasonal jobs of up to three months.

The rules for Turkish workers will also be relaxed.

Poland has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the European Union: 15.7%.

More than one million Poles have left to work in Western Europe, including an estimated 400,000 in Britain, where wages are much higher, since Poland became an EU member in 2004.

The directive, signed by the Polish Labour Ministry on Wednesday, is aimed especially at the fruit-picking sector.

"Farmers have indicated to us that there is a shortage of farm labour, especially for seasonal work," the ministry said in a statement, quoted by the AFP news agency.

The relaxation also covers foreign language teachers, business executives, media correspondents, researchers and employees transferred to Poland by their companies, who will not need to apply for work permits.

Turkish citizens who have lived in Poland for at least five years and legally worked there for four years will no longer have to renew their work permits.

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