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Last Updated: Friday, 20 July 2007, 22:46 GMT 23:46 UK
Poland acts to lure non-EU labour
By Adam Easton
BBC News, Warsaw

Polish manual workers in London. File photo
Britain attracts many Polish workers by its high wages
Poland has introduced cheaper visas to attract workers from neighbouring countries in an attempt to replace Poles emigrating to Western Europe.

Nationals of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine will be able to work in Poland for up to three months, twice a year.

Poland's economy is enjoying a boom, but is suffering labour shortages since more than a million Poles have left for EU states, notably the UK and Ireland.

Wages in Poland are still much lower than in Western Europe.

Euro 2012 concerns

Poland's labour ministry cut the red tape and reduced the price of a visa by 90% in an effort to entice workers from the east.

Strawberry picking
Poland's labour shortages are most acute in agriculture and construction

Deputy Labour Minister Kazimierz Kuberski said the opening-up of the labour market is a response to the needs of the Polish economy.

Even though it has the highest unemployment rate in the European Union, Poland is experiencing chronic labour shortages, especially in construction and agriculture.

And there are now concerns about Poland's ability to be ready on time to co-host the Euro 2012 football championships.

Poland needs to build several new grounds, hotels and huge stretches of motorway for the event.

The shortages are so acute, the authorities have even considered using soldiers and prisoners to help build the infrastructure.

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