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Migrant workers in tourism Employment - UK

Migrant workers in tourism Employment - UK
Author: Agnieszka Kwiatkowska
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Abstract: This research is about Polish Migrants working in the UK hospitality sector, it explores reasons for entering the hospitality workforce and their experience of working in the sector. The findings inform that main motivation for entering the sector is fact that is easy get a job and other are: learn English language or gain experience.

Keywords: Migrant, Employment, Polish, Tourism, Women, UK

On the 1st May 2004, it has been exactly 10 years when Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Cyprus, Malta and the Czech Republic joined the UE. (Borkowska, 2013) For a lot of people from Eastern Europe it becomes possible to work in the United Kingdom. However, the biggest number of the arrivals was noted from Poland. The 1st of May 2004 it was then England opened their job market to new EU. (Borkowska, 2013)

Nearly 90% of the Polish internet population agreed that in the country upon the river they had nothing to do. The only thing or the best thing was to go to England- the country of new perspectives and unlimited opportunities. When it comes to numbers of Polish people the figures are difficult to obtain however, according to statistic at the moment lives over 2 million Polish people in England.

In the tourism sector, Polish people are recognized as the one of the biggest group of international workers in the United Kingdom. (Janta, 2009) The most of them are working in the restaurant’s kitchen; as the waitress and housekeeper.

The Polish people in the UK have reported as the positive stereotype workers, which include having a good work ethic, accept works unwanted by locals; in the poor working conditions and work on low wages. (Janta, 2009) However, they are like that because some of them don’t know their rights or because they got a language barrier.

The history of migrations Polish people to UK is long and started long time ago. However, number theories of polish migrations are showing that people are moving mainly because of the economic reason. Another reason is to learn the language, undertake study or just to gain new experience.

Kasia, 35 years old says:
‘’I came to England in 2004…. I came here because in Poland I was working illegal on a really low wage… I came to find a better paid job… firstly, here I was working at the factory, but even at the factory I was getting higher wage than in Poland’’

Polish Migrants arriving in UK finding jobs in the hospitality sector for a lot of reasons. Find job in the hospitality sector is easy, all what you have to have is a little bit of English and to be flexible at all the time. Lack of qualification is not a big problem. The hospitality workers are characteristic as the: women, young people, migrants and ethnic minorities. The most important is that they can earn much more than in Poland.

For migrants, working in the poor conditions has a negative impact. Migrants working in the hospitality sector need to work for a long hours and be flexible at all the time what might contribute to stress, depression, psychical and mental illness as also to excessive drinking and smoking.

Kasia says:
‘’I was working for long hours… I needed to be flexible at all the time…sometimes I had a feeling that they were using me… ‘’

Also Migrants’ woman plays a significant role in the hospitality sector. Usually they are employed in the low paid and unskilled positions. Furthermore, females are often double discriminating for being women as also being a foreign. (Rydzik, Pritchard, Morgan, Sedgley, 2012) It’s happening like that because there is a gender stereotype. Men filling semiskilled jobs and women are doing traditional ‘women work’. Migrants women have to work in poor conditions, they need to be very productive and work much harder than males. Low-skilled jobs are types of jobs characterized as emotional charged. As the consequences of that women are used by their employers.

Kasia says:
‘The surprising fact is that I was discriminate not because I ‘m Polish, but just because I’m female’’
‘’ As a female I needed to do more, working harder… I needed to be a waitress, chef, secretary as also housekeeper.

There are a lot of Factors contributing to migrants being vulnerable to exploitation. Many migrants are working a big number of hours, seven days per week, without any rest and leisure and without holiday paid. The vulnerability is happening because of: lack of English language skills to understand their rights, lack of knowledge concerning the rights, luck of social network support and the cultural barriers. Migrants like that are unable to ask for outside help even in cases of the most extreme abuses, or from fear of losing their work permit and legal residence status.

The fact is that vulnerability is still a really big issue in UK employment and the effective protection of the migrant’s human right is a still large challenge worldwide. Therefore they were formed some organisations to focuses on the human rights.

Migration view should be building on the understanding human rights protection, in order to ensure that migration becomes an opportunity and choice rather than suffering and vulnerability


Borkowska, A ( 2013) ‘Migracje Polakow po przystapieniu do Uni Europejskiej’ [online] Available from: http://www.publikacjeonline.wnhis.iq.pl/numery/X/AB.pdf [Accessed on 15.04.2014]

Janta,H (2009) ‘ The experiences of Polish Migrants workers in the UK hospitality industry’ [online] Available from: http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/12999/1/Hanna_Janta.pdf [Accessed on 15.04.2014]

Rydzik, A, Pritchard A, Morgan N, Sedgley D (2012) Mobility, migration and hospitality employment: Voices of Central and Eastern European women 2 (2) 137-157