In travailleur polonaise en France, Polish workers, like a Russian, Romanian or Indian worker, cannot work legally on the ground without a permit. The exploitation of Polish workers by shipyards or by sub-contracting companies is well known. They are paid in zlotys and their salaries are transferred only after the conversion at a rate that is not favorable to them. They have no insurance in case of an accident at work (the agreement between French and Polish social security systems is not yet operational).

In a similar way, the exploitation of Romanian or Moroccan workers can be observed on farms or by building firms. These exploitations are legalized because the companies employing them do not declare them to the state or pay their social security contributions in France (they do so in Poland). This procedure also allows for the payment of wages that are in euros but which are received by the workers in zlotys and converted in France at the official rate.

Comparing Prices: How Do Interim Poland Rates Stack Up in the Market

After the Great War, emigrants from Poland, then under-qualified cheap labourers, were welcomed in mines and farms in central France. It was hoped they would quickly return to their homeland, but after the post-war economic crisis, the rise of Nazism and then communism, they were stuck. Their children grew up in France and, with the help of the state, they lost their link with Polish culture and heritage.

Today, France has a Polish community which represents between 500,000 and one million people. It has never succeeded in becoming a political force as, for example, the Franco-Jewish or Franco-Algerian communities did. This failure is due to the lack of a strong sense of solidarity between the different Poles in France and a willingness to fight for their interests.

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