UK government records high number of Czech workers
In the months leading up to last year's expansion of the European Union, many member states expressed concern about a potential influx of cheap labour from the new member countries. Most chose to introduce a transitional period of restrictions, while Sweden, Ireland, and Britain opened their labour markets. A British government study conducted last year forecast that between 5,000-13,000 workers from the new EU member states would register for work every year. But that number has been the average registered every month.
"My friend, who has been living here for six years, said I could come here if I wanted. So, I went to London straight away. After a week, I found a job in an Italian restaurant as a waiter. Now I work in an Indian restaurant on Oxford Street."
Stepan is one of over 12,000, who work in restaurants. Most new workers, 41,000 according to Home Office statistics, are employed in factories. While the number of workers registered in Britain is much higher than government estimates, most locals are not concerned. In a Home Office report, "accession workers help to fill the gaps particularly in administration, business and management, hospitality and catering, agriculture, manufacturing and food, and fish and meat processing".
"I also worked with people from Poland and they worked every day without a single day off. They got 200 British pounds a week, for 14 hours a day. If you want to get a good job, it's very difficult here. For example, you need to have a bank account and the companies do not help you. It took me five months. Three months ago I finished a course to work in a travel agency and I'm looking for a job in the travel industry now. I'm trying, but it's not very easy."