John Ward – Poles Apart – 23 June 2014

JohnWThe Western EU could learn a great deal from Poland’s migrant workers

I’m on the record over many years now as saying that, every time I have engaged with Polish workers in the UK, I have found them smart, helpful, diligent, linguistically talented, honest and generous. Above all, their work ethic exceeds anything I’ve yet found….but without any sense of them becoming slaves.

How, I wonder, did Poles gain this cultural advantage: the education system there? Family influences? Or was it 75 years of being under the Soviet jackboot that led them to aspire so much to individual excellence and aspiration now? I am not as yet qualified to offer a definitive answer to those queries. All I can do here is record how and why they succeed wherever they go.

A major drawback with hiring Poles is the generosity thing, as it usually involves alcohol and deliciously high-fat food. Thus far I have been given 63 proof farm-made Polish cognac (excellent but ultimately a very effective anaesthetic) three brands of high-gravity Polish beer (Perla is by far the best, but it weighs in at 5.6%) wonderful tinned confit of pork (historic with tomatoes, cornichons and French bread) and Quince-favoured Vodka that slips down like silk panties.

This is, however, just about the only drawback….apart from their pronunciation of French. As most ‘e’ sounds in Polish are ‘o’, it was only after four days with Mikal that I worked out what Vondrodi meant. At first I thought it might be some mysterious German Count – Klaus Von Drodi – but at last I worked out he was saying ‘Vendredi’ – the French for Friday.

Mikal’s pronunciation leaves 2 sounding like 12 (disastrous if you’re ordering plasterboard) and also his noun-gender confusion is misleading: he refers to his soon-to-be wife as ‘mon femme’, which initially led me to wonder whether cross-dressing might be involved somewhere.

But in every other respect, the Poles here are a whirlwind of advice, cooperation, and transformation. Thus they are, if you like, the vanguard of an even bigger Tsunami to come: they have three times the work rate of the British, twice that of the French artisan, they cost half as much….and above all, they’re interested in what you want – not what’s easiest for them.

Coming soon: Indian, Chinese, Korean and Indonesian products made with more market-awareness and quality built in than previously.

It really does leave one wondering where that will leave the West….apart from up its own arse, up a gum tree, up in the clouds, and up Sh*t Creek without a paddle.

Earlier at The Slog: Amber Rudd, David Cameron and the tunnel vision thing / link to original article


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