When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

The Polish-German border
The Polish-German border
Anna Gmiterek-Zabłocka
At an employement agency in southeastern Poland, notices offer a variety of job opportunities abroad. One particular post advertising agricultural work in Germany looks, at first glance, to be a good offer. The reality is very different.
To be able to send people to work abroad, Polish employement agencies need to be signed into a Provincial Job Center register. Thousands of workers every year go through such agencies to places like Germany, France, U.S., Belgium and Sweden. By law, if something goes wrong, an employee has the right to file a complaint to this Job Center, though that rarely happens. This is the story of one such complaint.
This job, like all physical labor, is hard. But the employees were aware of that before signing up. The problem here is that nobody from the employment agency back in Poland said what the living conditions would be like.
The Polish workers live in containers made of sheet tin without a toilet and running water. Inside of the cramped space, there are two bunk beds. To take a shower, people have to walk to another building located far from the containers. There are no shower curtains so everyone takes a shower together. Embarrasing for some, all simply had to get used to it since there was no other choice. Then there was the cold inside the containers, filled with holes in the tin “walls.”
Furthermore, the employees are not called by their names but with numbers like in concentration camps. This kind of treatment is certainly inhumane.
According to the report, when the employees first traveled to Germany and arrived at the work site at 6 a.m., they were greeted by a very tense atmosphere from those overseeing the job. They had to wait outside for four hours before someone came to pick them up. The drivers, who were Turkish, then started the selection, pointing out who was going to work on the factory floor and who were the “lucky” ones to work in the field. They took all the people’s identification cards, and gave them back only just before they left to return to Poland.
Working conditions were terrible. The employees worked for more than 12 hours a day with one short break in the middle. They were told to work faster and faster. Being late or having a day off was banned. Whoever was indeed lucky to be working on the factory floor was continuously threatened to be sent to work in the field if they didn't work harder. The Turkish foremen cursed at the workers, called them idiots, tossed carrots at them, and tugged at their sleeves. If their employers were not pleased, they refused to pay. The hourly salary was 4.50 euros, but chopping leeks was paid in volume - one euro per box. The stress was enormous.
The Polish agency responsible for sending workers to this German site has since changed its name, but is still sending people to work. When contacted by a reporter posing as a job applicant seeking work in Germany, the agency said it was impossible because there were currently too many job applications. Moreover, the Polish workers no longer work in the factory, but only in the field. The Provincial Job Center verified this employment agency and the German work site, but for now has not found grounds to punish them.
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Hide-And-Seek Of Drone Warfare, A Letter From Ukraine's Front Line

A member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces writes his account of the new dynamic of targeting, and being targeted by, the invading Russian troops, as drones circle above and trenches get left behind.

A Ukrainian military drone operator during a testing of anti-drone rifle in Kyiv.

Igor Lutsenko*

KYIV — The current war in Ukraine is a game of hide-and-seek. Both sides are very well-stocked with artillery, enough to destroy the enemy along many kilometers. Swarms of drones fly through the air day and night, keeping a close eye on the earth's surface below. If they notice something interesting, it immediately becomes a target. Depending on the priority, they put it in line for destruction by artillery.

Therefore, the only effective way to survive is to hide, or at least somehow prove to the drones your non-priority status — and avoid moving to the front of the 'queue of death.'

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

In general, the nature of this queue is a particular thing. It may seem to be a god, but is instead a simple artillery captain's decision of when to have lunch, and when to fire on the house where several enemy soldiers are staying. It's just a handful of ordinary people (observers, artillerymen) deciding how long their enemies will live depending on their own schedule or the weather, the availability of ammunition or if they're feeling tired.

Keep reading... Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch Video Show less
MOST READ