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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 February, 2005, 10:33 GMT
'Why I want to work in Britain'
By Cindi John
BBC News community affairs reporter


Cards in a newsagent's window
The newsagent's window is where many migrants find work
Glance in the window of the newsagent on the corner of Dalling Road in Hammersmith, west London, and you might think you have somehow been transported to eastern Europe.

The job advert cards in Polish and other Slavic languages greatly outnumber those in English, and most of the people scribbling down details hail from the European Union's newest member states.

More than 130,000 people from Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland have registered to work in the UK since their states joined the EU last May, according to Home Office figures released on Tuesday.

Unlike previous waves of migrants, fewer than a quarter of the new arrivals have settled in London with many finding work in rural areas in the agricultural sector.

'More profitable'

But for many who have stayed in London - particularly Poles who make up more than half of the new migrants - the starting point to work is the Hammersmith newsagent's window.

One job seeker is Anna who's been in the UK for a year.

The 25-year-old says that in the past she has been a cleaner and kitchen porter, but she has been unemployed for the last four months.

Marco, from Krakow
It's easy for me to find work and I earn much more money here
Marco from Krakow

However, she believes the higher wages in the UK mean it is more profitable to work sporadically here than steadily back home in Krakow.

"In England I can earn 5 or 6 an hour which is five times more than I can earn in Krakow," she says.

However, Marco from Krakow, who's been in the UK for three years, says he never has any trouble picking up jobs.

"I work in the building industry, doing painting and decoration, that sort of thing. It's easy for me to find work and I earn much more money here."

Unlike Marco, Luca, who's peering at the adverts with a friend, is a newcomer having been in the UK for just a month.

"We've come here looking for work every day but so far haven't found any. We're looking for cleaning, labouring jobs, anything like that," he says.

'More competition'

East European migrants cannot claim unemployment benefit until they have registered with the Home Office and worked continuously in the UK for a year.

Marius, from eastern Poland
Marius says the competition for work is much stiffer now

But like most of the newcomers, Luca is young and without dependents so he is not too worried by his lack of work.

"Luckily I can live with my brother, he's been in London two years," he says.

He knew he might have trouble finding work but decided to come to the UK anyway, Luca adds.

Marius, from eastern Poland, agrees it can be tough getting a job.

He's been back in the UK for just two days, he says, having spent 18 months here working in the construction industry before Poland joined the EU.

He believes there is more competition for jobs since residents of the eastern European states became eligible to work in the UK.

"It's not that easy to find work in England now, it was much easier before. But If I don't find work soon I'll just go back to Poland," he says.




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