Anti-rumours are what we know about the background and reality behind the most common rumours identified within the C4i during the rumours identification process in Lublin.
1. Foreigners steal jobs fro Poles and lower the wages.
In times of economic crisis and difficulties on the labour market, it is very easy to assume that there is one simple factor to “blame” for such situation. Not only in Lublin’s reality, but on the nationwide and European scale as well, the myth that immigrants take the jobs of natives is widespread but finds no confimation in the facts.
On the contrary, the immigrants living in Lublin are in a much worse situation than in most places in Poland and the European Union, as the labour market does not provide many options for foreigners.
Meaning: there are not that many jobs to steal! Of course it does not mean that there are no jobs in Lublin. The problem is that there are few jobs that can be taken by foreigners here in Lublin. In most of the cases, the Poles and the immigrants do not compete in the same sectors of employment! There are many reasons for that:
- Qualifications. There are rules that apply to many professional positions in Poland and confirming qualifications is not a simple process. In many cases, to do the job foreigners are trained to do, they need to acquire additional skills required in Poland.
- Language barrier. Polish language is not an easy one and in most places it is not possible to work without good knowledge of Polish. Lack of this essential skill in many cases makes it impossible to work here. On the other hand, the ability to speak a foreign, native language is – in many cases – a great advantage of foreigners. But again, they do not compete here withe the Polish, they provide qualifications that otherwise cannot be found on the local labour market.
- Lack of work permit. It is not easy to obtain one! You need a job to have a permit and you need a permit to get a job. We remember this very well from the times many Poles worked illegaly in Great Britain or United States. What do you do then? You hire yourself illegally, hoping that the situation will fix itself, that you find something better, that once the employer finds out how great you are, he or she will be willing to employ you legally. The lack of legal possibility to work makes immigrants the most vulnerable!
The legal cirumstances faced by foreigners wanting or needing to work in Lublin are not at all easy. Rules of employing foreigners are complicated and not easy for Polish employers as well. Sometimes they have to prove that no Polish candidate was available for the position. In many cases it means that foreigners are forced to agree to work illegally and for less money than would be offered to a Polish person which is not their choice but necessity. On the other hand, there are more and more foreigners who come to Lublin to invest their money and start a business. This is a great opportunity not only for them, but also for the Poles who they may want to hire.
2. Foreigners exploit Polish social services
You do not “exploit” social services, you use them if you are eligible to obtain help with public money. Benefits are not granted to foreigners just because they are foreigners. They are granted to those who need them to survive and are eligible to obtain them at the same time – because of their legal status in Poland, for example. People decide to migrate mostly because they want to build a better life in other countires. Without the language, connections or network of support – as it usually is the case for someone who moves to another country – it is much more difficult to be able to start a new life.
Of course, social services employees admit that cases of presenting false evidence by foreigners in order to obtain benefits happen. But they also happen with Polish citizens! Once they are discovered, the benefits are being taken away from such persons. So far, costs of integration in Lublin are not high at all. In 2013 for example, 14 persons were qualified to obtain additional money for their integration needs (such as learning Polish) and approximately 323,26 PLN a month per person was spent. In addition, 24 person lived in 3 protected appartments in the City of Lublin, which costed another 116,41 PLN per person a month. Another group were families receiving benefits: there were 42 families receiving benefits on general basis (meaning: the same rules applied to them as to the Poles) and the average monthly amount per family was 406 PLN. If you add all of this together (which is not entirely correct, because all these 3 categories did not necessarily match), you will find out that monthly benefits for a foreigner would be around 600 PLN.
3. Foreigners mean increased criminality.
There wre 70 000 crimes committed in Poland in 2013. out of all of them, 2 152 suspect were foreigners. Which, assuming the proportion of 1 suspect to 1 crime, would mean that foreigners were suspect in 3% of the cases, leaving the other 97% to Polish citizens. In 2013 alone, 35 000 applications for temporary residence permits were submitted and the total number of foreigners in Poland was much higher than this. This means that out of all immigrants here in Poland, only a small group gets in conflict with the law. The vast majority of immigrants respects the law and wants to integrate with the Polish society.
Considering the fact that 97% of person suspected of committing offences are Polish nationals, the fear of foreigners being criminals does not seem legitimate. But it should not be a surprise: any time a member of a minority group does something wrong, the media immediately exploit such news. After all, we never hear: “Major car accident in the centre of Lublin. The offender was Polish” on the news. The nationality is only brought up in case of foreigners.
4. Foreigners do not want to learn Polish language
(and therefore cause a problem for Poles who have to learn foreign languages!)
It is very hard to say if foreigners do or do not want to learn Polish language. Some of them do, some of them do not. The question is: is it easy for them to learn Polish? Are Polish lessons widely available and free (affordable)? Where do they go if they want to learn and who helps them with it? Unfortunately, neither state or municipalities provide Polish classes for foreigners. It is done mostly by NGOs and it is not always done in a systematic way, as the money for this purpose comes from the European Union Fund for Integration of the 3rd Countries Nationals. Childeren in Polish schools get some support when it comes to learning Polish, their parents – not necessarily.
Let’s all try to remember what it was like when we started going abroad to work. There are still big Polish neighbourhoods in the United States, where mostly Polish language is used and residents, even though they have lived in the country for many years, still do not speak English. Polish is a difficult language, but with some encouragement and motivation, anyone can speak it. Learning new languages should be fun and easy, not only for foreigners in Poland, but for Polish citizens too!
5. Anyone who wants to can come and stay in Poland, even though there is not enough work for everyone.
It is not easy to be eligible to stay and work legally in Poland – unless you are a citizen of European Union. So called “third countries nationals” (citizens of all countries outside of EU), have to meet very strict criteria in order to be able to stay in Poland. Data from all over the world shows that people choose to live outside of their countries of origins in order to make their lives better, and so most of foreigners in Poland really do have to put a lot of effort into organizing their life to meet a certain standard. You can find out for yourself how unfriendly the procedures concerning immigrants are by browsing a brochure of Helskinki Human Rights Foundation: Residence Legalisation and Employment.