Polish migrants working in Britain are considering strike action to prove the importance of their input to the UK economy.
The unofficial action, earmarked for August 20, appears to be organised via internet forums in response to claims that migrant workers are ‘benefit scroungers’, the Daily Telegraph reported. Other groups of migrant workers are also being encouraged to take part in the protest.
There are an estimated half a million Poles working in the UK, particularly in areas such as healthcare, construction and food. If they were to walk out, it could cause severe disruption for these services. Polish workers now make up the second highest number of foreign-born employees in the UK after people from India.
The idea for a strike, which started as a post on an online forum, has won the support of Polish language community site and newspaper Polish Express.
Its editor Tomasz Kowalski said: “I think it’s a good idea. It’s not about anger, it’s just a way to show people in the UK that immigrants are an important part of Britain.
“We want to make the point that we are here and that we want to feel appreciated. It’s also a matter of pride – Poles like living in the UK, they like their jobs but we don’t like people saying we’re only here for benefits.”
The inspiration for the strike comes from a similar day of action held by immigrants in the US during the 1980s, which brought a number of services to a standstill.
In the Polish community, there is anger that people are wrongly labelled as benefits scroungers. Indeed, a survey in 2014 showed that Poles living in Britain are nearly 20 per cent more likely to be working than people born in the UK.