An important victory here which indicates the benefits of union membership for migrant workers and should help in the unionisation campaign. What follows is a TUC statement.The TUC today (Thursday) welcomed a major victory for Polish workers in Britain who have been paying double tax on their earnings. A campaign by the TUC South West region has led to a treaty being signed today between the Polish and UK Governments that will make sure Polish workers do not pay both tax in the UK and high level tax on the same earnings when they return to Poland. Thanks to this treaty, UK tax paid will count against Polish tax.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber is visiting the Polish church in Bristol today where the problem was first raised with the TUC by the Polish support group, Polski Bristol. The South West TUC took up the campaign with Dawn Primarolo, Bristol South MP and Paymaster General, highlighting to the Minister the complicated tax rules and the fact that workers in other countries such as Ireland get better tax treatment. The Government has subsequently reached an agreement that will benefit thousands of Polish workers employed in the UK. Dawn Primorolo has signed the treaty today on behalf of the British Government
Speaking at the Polish church in Bristol this evening, Brendan Barber will say: ‘Unions, campaigners and community groups in Bristol have worked together to secure an important victory for thousands of Polish workers across the whole country and end this unjust ‘Pole tax’. The Government rightly recognises the value that Polish workers add to the UK economy and has responded quickly to union concerns that they were not being treated fairly.’
Julia Verne , Polski Bristol, said: ‘This is great news for Polish workers who have been penalised with unfair tax demands when they go home. The current double tax system doesn’t take into account the high cost of living in the UK and is especially punitive to workers on low pay. The system means that workers are left with very little disposable income. When we first raised this issue, the church was packed with workers who wanted to know why they faced double tax. This treaty is great news and we are indebted to the TUC for helping us tackle this issue.’
Nigel Costley, South West TUC Regional Secretary, said:’Unions are giving on-the-ground support to Polish workers to make sure they are treated properly at work but we’ve proved we can also tackle bigger problems. I didn’t realise that they had to pay double tax and was pleased to help them campaign for reform. Dawn Primarolo has been very quick to respond to this issue and make the system fairer for workers in her own constituency and across the country.’