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Office life in Poland

I like living and working in Poland, though I miss the camaraderie of my last teaching job in a private school in England. (Teaching in a state school sucked - kids OK, teachers not!)

Eastern Europeans view working life in the UK in various, usually positive ways:
reasonable hours, long lunchbreaks, non-stop gossip ...

http://jobsadvice.guardian.co.uk/officehours/story/0,,2175444,00.html

Re: Office life in Poland

Either the working culture has completely changed in the last five years or these people have wonderful jobs in unproductive companies...

I've worked in various environments in the UK over the years. I have worked in places which are terribly formal and nobody gossips and you aren't allowed to eat at your desk and I have worked in places where there is always time for a joke and a chat and cigarette and tea making breaks are a regular highlight. I've also worked in places where hard work, long hours and gossip and tea and cigarette breaks are combined with going to the pub after work and getting home at 2am. In fact I've known of people who have come back and slept under the desk rather than go back home after a nights clubbing. I've even been at work overnight at a weekend on one occasion (not partying but working).

It really depends where you work and which industry and profession you are in. Some companies in the UK are extremely demanding and treat their employees as slave labour. This is becoming the norm in certain sectors. What about those call centre operators who were not allowed to go to the toilet and were made to stand on desks?!

I'd say that the most productive organisations with the most motivated staff have a strong work culture combined with a strong social culture and an informal hierarchy. Can't remember who tipped the triangle upside down but they had the right idea. Creating a motivated and engaged workforce at all levels is the way forward. Unfortunately Poland is still rooted to the old communist hierarchical attitudes. Plus in Poland people all like to think they are right so question the boss at your peril....

Re: Office life in Poland

Mind you I guess guardian readers are usually in dossy jobs where they get lots of tea breaks and go home early....

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from what I have seen in Europe over the years, Brits and Germans have superb work ethics.

Poles as well, other than many 40+ year olds who started their working years during PRL.

As far as sheer entrepreneurship, Poles are way up there.

Re: Office life in Poland

Poles as well, other than many 40+ year olds who started their working years during PRL.

Mike C, Can I take issue with that comment, I think most Poles are pretty hard working and reliable workers, there are lazy people in all nationalities including those in the US.
In the communist times everyone had a job, and thats why a lot jobs had a oversupply of people hence you would see a lot of people standing around and doing nothing, now we have performance based performance contracts and if you don't perform you don't have a job.
Too many people like to put down Polish workers and say they are lazy, this is not true. I wonder where you got your facts from Mike C?

Re: Office life in Poland

"Mike C, Can I take issue with that comment, I think most Poles are pretty hard working and reliable workers, there are lazy people in all nationalities including those in the US.

In the communist times everyone had a job, and thats why a lot jobs had a oversupply of people hence you would see a lot of people standing around and doing nothing, now we have performance based performance contracts and if you don't perform you don't have a job."

Agreed. I got my facts from working in Poland.

Whats the problem? I'm not putting anyone down, easy there fella.

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Let me rephrase. Poles are hard working and entrepreneurial, other than small minority of those who held do-nothing jobs during PRL due to communist government’s full-employment policies.

Happy, Radiomaryjny?

Just kidding offbeat, you’re my main man.

Re: Office life in Poland

Offbeat, my man, since you brought it up, let me ask you this.

How do you feel about some of the newly arrived Poles who scam all sorts of social benefits in England? During PRL, stealing from the state was quite acceptable, since most despised the government. Isn’t that a by-product of communism?

Re: Office life in Poland

"Too many people like to put down Polish workers and say they are lazy, this is not true. I wonder where you got your facts from Mike C? "

Polish workers vary just like any other nationality. Their attitudes are dependent on skills, personality and experience. They are generally reliable and polite but performance will depend on what the motivation factor is. There is a general level of complacency seeping into the Polish labour force in the UK, where they are realising they don't have to give 110% and they are milking the reputation others have built up for all they can get. We recently had to drop a Polish guy who was making a meal out of putting up a new fence in our garden for which he was getting a daily rate. It's an unfortunate symptom of a legal rather than a black market workforce. They integrate to the point of adopting local bad attitudes.

Re: Office life in Poland

Spot on.

Have you ever watched Poles 'working' on a road or building site in Poland .

Reecntly my wife was quoted 300 zloties for putting new roof sheets on a shed in our garden. She agreed and the guy arranged to come the next week to start the job which he estimated would take two days to complete. He called the day before he was to start to say that prices had gone up and he would now charge 600 to 700. Needless to say my wife told him to fuck off!

It seems he found out I wasn't Polish, so must be loaded

Re: Office life in Poland

BTW - these are Poles in Poland. So the bad habits are purely Polish, not "adopted" from anywhere else.

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"So the bad habits are purely Polish, not "adopted" from anywhere else"

Yes but such attitudes are common among the indigenous UK workforce too Hans. Particularly in the building / renovation industry where they have even filmed workmen lazing about in people's houses when they are supposed to be working. There was a tv show here dedicated to it.

It's understandable that Polish workers on roads are unmotivated because they get paid peanuts so why bother putting in graft. What happened in the UK was that people came here and were really motivated because for once they were earning decent cash. Now they have got savvy to their potential and are taking on the habits of the local populace.

Re: Office life in Poland

"Reecntly my wife was quoted 300 zloties for putting new roof sheets on a shed in our garden. She agreed and the guy arranged to come the next week to start the job which he estimated would take two days to complete. He called the day before he was to start to say that prices had gone up and he would now charge 600 to 700. Needless to say my wife told him to fuck off! "

Good for her. There is a mentality that it is ok to blatantly rip off foreigners. That has to stop.

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Hans's point is surely that Polish workers are lazy cheats in Poland. Not that they come to England and suddenly become lazy because they mimic other workers.

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In my view labouring types are lazy cheats wherever they come from.

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We built several construction projects in Poland, and honestly, no different work ethic than in the US. Most work well.

It’s all about pay and supervision. You can’t expect some random “contractor” that shows up at your door to be reputable. Random “laborers” usually – not always – work to get paid quickly and buy a bottle or two.

The issue is that in Poland, there is a culture of ripping off foreigners, which drives me insane. I don’t look Polish, but speak the language very well and have been quoted different prices many times while in Poland. They get shocked when I call bull shit in their (and mine) native tongue.

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"Hans's point is surely that Polish workers are lazy cheats in Poland. Not that they come to England and suddenly become lazy because they mimic other workers"

thanks I did realise that Angela as Hans is usually very clear in his posts

My point was that if you don't pay someone a decent living wage they will do work worthy of the wage you are paying them. Besides, I don't think it's very fair to labour all labouring types as lazy cheats. It's not a fun job and is also often a dangerous one. Someone has to build the roads etc. I'm just grateful we don't have to do this ourselves.

Re: Office life in Poland

"I don’t look Polish"

Mike now I am intrigued as to what you look like.....

Re: Office life in Poland

"My point was that if you don't pay someone a decent living wage they will do work worthy of the wage you are paying them. Besides, I don't think it's very fair to labour all labouring types as lazy cheats. It's not a fun job and is also often a dangerous one. Someone has to build the roads etc. I'm just grateful we don't have to do this ourselves. "

Exactly. Roads have to be built, ditches have to be dug. Brits should be eternally grateful to the Poles for coming over, from economic perspective.

And if you're too cheap to pay a decent wage, you will get what you pay for.

Re: Office life in Poland

"Hans's point is surely that Polish workers are lazy cheats in Poland. Not that they come to England and suddenly become lazy because they mimic other workers. "

Angela, did you forget to take your medicine today

Surely you dont mean that...

Re: Office life in Poland

sorry I meant to say "label all labouring types" but maybe I was subconsciously labouring the point

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How do you feel about some of the newly arrived Poles who scam all sorts of social benefits in England? During PRL, stealing from the state was quite acceptable, since most despised the government. Isn’t that a by-product of communism?

Mike C, thanks for asking the question, I'm quite sure we will agree on this one!

I just hope that every person in Poland today uses to his advantage all options available to him to better his lifestyle, if it means going to the UK and going on social welfare benefits to achieve that, well half his luck, he was full right doing this without being criticized. On the the reverse side of the coin the British are well and truly exploiting the new laws regarding foreign ownership in both business and land ownership in Poland, it was become a sort of level playing field, although in the whole transaction Poland has been short changed.
With regard to welfare fraud, I quite sure the Brits are smart enough and have strict compliance and monitor fraud, remember the British government would have been well aware of the costs associated with welfare payments when it entered the EU.

With regard to Poles having a culture of stealing from employers, well I don't know, I must say though that I once helped a Polish friend of mine (now ex friend) who I helped get a good job with a meat manufacturer, the employer took a shine to him and gave him a well paid contract, my friendship soured when he sold me bacons and sausages which I later found out he stole hmmm :-) that goes against the grain of every part of my body, you just don't do.
In the aussie expression "your not doing the right thing" :-))

Re: Office life in Poland

I just hope that every person in Poland today uses to his advantage all options available to him to better his lifestyle, if it means going to the UK and going on social welfare benefits to achieve that, well half his luck, he was full right doing this without being criticized.

I can't agree on this.


On the the reverse side of the coin the British are well and truly exploiting the new laws regarding foreign ownership in both business and land ownership in Poland, it was become a sort of level playing field, although in the whole transaction Poland has been short changed.


Please expand.

Re: Office life in Poland

Well technically if the opportunity is there for people from Poland to come to the UK to claim benefits then why would they not go down that route. You have to remove the opportunity if you want people to stop exploiting it. A number of people have said it is difficult to get any benefits in Poland if you are not resident. So why is it so easy in the UK? I'm sure if there was a country brits could go to where they could get a free house and benefits double or more what they get here then they would take advantage of that opportunity.

Re: Office life in Poland

Well I wouldn't. But it sounds like you would!

Re: Office life in Poland

Another angle is why did British government fund a generous social net without sufficient controls to prevent fraudulent claims?

Plenty of Poles do very well in Poland, they have no intention of going anywhere. The ones that some here moan and complain about, call them “lazy cheats” (quite despicable btw) are desperate in every sense of the word. There are places in Poland where kids go to school hungry, whose parents can’t afford to buy them warm winter clothes. Their parents haven’t had a job for years since the local factory or PGR shut down years ago. If they can anywhere and get a job they will jump at the opportunity. By far and large, they are working people who simply want to feed their family.

It wasn’t that long ago that thousands of poor Brits, Scotts, and later Irish settled the USofA. Many where met with same prejudice and hatred some Poles are now experiencing in Britain. Thankfully the hateful ones are in minority.

And finally, that cheap labor from the East is fueling British economy and cutting business overhead. At the end of the day, Britain gets the better end of the deal. I think that’s what offbeat was referring to.

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There's plenty of work in Poland if you want to work. Most unemployed Poles would rather not.

Also don't you think that the Polish government should be giving handouts to their own scroungers and doing more to provide work for them?

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“There's plenty of work in Poland if you want to work. Most unemployed Poles would rather not.

Also don't you think that the Polish government should be giving handouts to their own scroungers and doing more to provide work for them?”

Yes and yes. Look, I’ve done enough business in Poland and never had any problems finding employees. I was shocked at how many who could have worked would rather sit on their ass and collect unemployment. That’s a big part of the problem – benefits are far too generous. Enough to live off of, coupled with Babcia’s renta for drinking, and you have a recipe for perpetual poverty. Current government have done nothing to address it.

But, there are places in Poland who have been hit especially hard. For instance, a friend of mine is currently buying empty farmhouses with acreage for peanuts because literally half of working adults in a village left to work in Britain. There used to be a huge PGR nearby, it went belly up, and people were forced to live off the land – literally. Where in Poland will they get a job, or rather who will hire them? Unemployable. If they can do manual labor in Britian, see ya, they are gone. The government should spend EU money on job training, something.. Anyway….

Re: Office life in Poland

OK, agreed on all points.

Re: Office life in Poland

"Well I wouldn't. But it sounds like you would! "

I've always worked for a living Angela and I pay my taxes. I hate the idea of a benefit lifestyle, but some people see it as a lifestyle. Not Poles but a certain group of people in every country in the world take advantage when they can get money for nothing. I do feel strongly that there should be benefits for those in need (the sick and disabled etc). The problem is that if you completely withdraw non means tested type benefits you end up with a huge amount of poverty in a very rich country. I don't like supporting these layabouts with my hard earned taxes any more than you do, but the alternative of having them begging on the street or turning to crime is no easier to swallow.

Re: Office life in Poland

By the way this looks like another example of the goverment's slapdash approach in implementing policy. Nobody ever looks carefully at the implications of policy changes and at the details. The result is that you end up with loopholes where non resident Poles can claim child benefit from the UK. That's just plain silly. You may criticise the Polish system, but as Dajwid has said the same is not allowed to happen there. You can rationalise any crazy policy into existence if you use the right logic and address the right stakeholders. But once you realise how crazy it is you should put a stop to it.

Re: Office life in Poland

There's plenty of work in Poland if you want to work. Most unemployed Poles would rather not.

I don't think I would be whistling Dixie and over the moon if I was offered a job in Poland for 6 to 10 zl per hour, you wouldn't work for that sort of money so don't expect others to do the same. How the Poles must think that they would have to live on this earth twice to purchase a decent type of house and thats not taking into account living costs.
We all know that the Russians and Germans loved using slave labour but the British and the Americans are not much better, but do so in a more user friendly way. The use of cheap labour is the same as slave labour a thing that still goes on in democratic (free) countries. :-))

Re: Office life in Poland

Isn't it better to work for your money rather than living on welfare benefits (off the hard work of others)?

Re: Office life in Poland

On the the reverse side of the coin the British are well and truly exploiting the new laws regarding foreign ownership in both business and land ownership in Poland, it was become a sort of level playing field, although in the whole transaction Poland has been short changed.


Please expand.

Angela, you may want to name any Polish owned companies which own or have major shares in a foreign company, because most Polish companies are owned ny foreign interests. I suppose that is fair!

Re: Office life in Poland

The Polish oil company is international. I don't remember it's name.

Re: Office life in Poland

Isn't it better to work for your money rather than living on welfare benefits (off the hard work of others)?

Angela, you need to think beyond the square, One of the benefits of a democratic society (as opposed to a capitalistic society) is people are looked after in time of need, ill health and in crisis. Having a safety net for people who are unemployed and giving a person income support till such time as he is able to find employment is what good government is all about.

Some further points,

Very few people abuse the system and the ones who do don't win in the long terms, long term unemployed people face health issues such as depression, alcohol and drug abuse.
Most people know that receiving benefits cannot give them a good lifestyle.
The cost of paying unemployment benefits far out ways the cost of associated with crimes which would have been committed if benefits were not paid.
Look at Poland today, it's a time bomb in the making where unemployed people are forced to steal for food.:-)

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"Isn't it better to work for your money rather than living on welfare benefits (off the hard work of others)? "

You get to a point where working is more expensive than not working.

I mean I know that a portion of my salary goes on train fares to and from work (and I'm lucky, some people who commute from outside London pay an absolute fortune). If I stayed at home I would not have to pay this out. I spend about £6-£8 a day for lunchtime sandwiches and fruit. At home I have food I buy cheaper at the supermarket but I can't be bothered to make a sandwich in the morning. I also buy loads of clothes for work and shoes ..I always need new shoes for work. Then I add to that the social expenses to do with work. The obigatory trip to the pub when someone leaves (and taxi fare home), the leaving present, birthday presents for colleagues, the team lunches, the Christmas party ticket, Christmas presents for colleagues, Wedding presents for colleagues, new baby presents for colleagues (seems to be a baby boom where I work) etc. Ok in my case I am not exactly on £1.50 an hour. But if I were, then work expenses would be the majority of my expenditure - in fact I could not afford to work. I remember the days in the 90s when I would wear a suit to work along with special gloss tights which I would buy at about £3 a pack and only wear maybe twice at most. The dry cleaning of my pure wool suits, plus reheeling shiny court shoes. (I used to buy two pairs at a time in case they scuffed). Of course you had to wear such clothes because there was a smart dress code. Plus I had to have my hair done all the time to look well groomed and all that (I still have my hair done all the time to look well groomed but if I wasn't working I would not bother so often and would probably grow it long again). Then when I used to drive to work outside London...maintenance wear and tear on my car, petrol etc.

Anyway that's my theory as to why it's not worth your while working for £1.50 an hour. The additional costs outweigh any income.

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Some good points, offbeat and ania. But I'd still prefer to work rather than claim benefits. I know many wouldn't.

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Angela, you may want to name any Polish owned companies which own or have major shares in a foreign company, because most Polish companies are owned ny foreign interests. I suppose that is fair

Offbeat, in the real world it is called investment. A country with money goes to another and 'investst', this means spend money. open a company, this is good for Poland. GOOD. Whatever you are being told by the radio.
Surely you don't honestly believe that poles getting beefits in the UK is OK as Britain invests money in Poland

Re: Office life in Poland

". But I'd still prefer to work rather than claim benefits"

I do too and always have although after finishing uni there was a lack of any jobs for a while. I had a temp job in a rough area which didn't pay enough to make it worthwhile (not just the journey but putting up with the depressive surroundings). I left after two weeks and looked for other work so for a while I was not working. Luckily I could live for free at my parents. Others can't. I did however actively and constantly look for other more suitable work until I found a job in the city (and had a couple of other dull temp assignments just doing routine office work but slightly better paid than the first one.

I am however what you would describe as a pretty resourceful person. Others aren't and don't have the determination to keep trying. It's not their fault, it's personality. Maybe that's why many Poles who come over do find work. They are resourceful enough to go where the opportunities are. The ones that stay lack the drive to get ahead maybe. There are plenty of similar minded people home grown in the UK so perhaps we have to accept that a portion of the population needs extra assistance in getting their act together.

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By the way I don't mean all the Poles who stay. There are plenty of very active and able Poles living in Poland and keeping it ticking over (just not enough of them there at the mo!)

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Offbeat, in the real world it is called investment. A country with money goes to another and 'investst', this means spend money. open a company, this is good for Poland. GOOD. Whatever you are being told by the radio.
Surely you don't honestly believe that poles getting benefits in the UK is OK as Britain invests money in Poland

Undoubtedly we will have to live with the current set up, at least until the next revolution, as always some will be pretty well off , the majority will be living off the crumbs.
When Poland signed the paper work to enter the EU, they must play ball and I agree its a level playing field (as you say the Brits can invest and buy Polish land)
The poles should now focus on having strong trade unions to ensure workers are given award wages and conditions.

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I agree, it boils down to money.
Pay decent wages and Poles will stay in Poland and work. The problem is the ZUS and tax set up. I wanted to employ more teachers a few years back, we had too many students in the school, time to expand. Sadly when I worked out the money I needed 3 more teachers, but after paying ZUS and tax we wouldn't have made a penny, so we downsized and made more.
Cut taxation, sort out Zus and Poland may prosper. I think it was Hania Gronkiewicz Waltz that said that about 5 years ago.

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"(as you say the Brits can invest and buy Polish land)"

They might invest. Tesco is the largest supermarket chain in Poland. But they can't easily buy land. Only Poles can do this.

No other EU country imposes such rules.

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Haven't some supermarkets been pulled up for buying land that they never use in the UK? They buy it to stop another supermarket being able to set up at a nearby, suitable location.