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Preparations are underway for a UNI supported programme to help Ukrainian refugees arriving in Poland.

The project, being run through COZZ – UNI’s Central European Organising Centre in Poland – will provide support and advice to ensure that Ukrainians in Poland know their rights and receive help finding work.

According to the UN, three million refugees have so far fled the war in Ukraine, with 1.8 million seeking safety in Poland. The programme will initially cover the Warsaw area where 230,000 mostly women and children are being housed or are staying in temporary accommodation in or near the capital. UNI sources say refugees there are already lining up to find work. Hundreds thousands more Ukrainian refugees have also passed through the city. 

Around 10 to 15 people will be directly involved in the project, which will link to UNI trade unions in the country and partner with three established aid organizations that already have experience with refugees and the Ukrainian community.

UNI also plans to set up a helpline and provide much needed practical information.

One of the first tasks will be to produce leaflets in Ukrainian and Russian informing refugees on their rights, benefits and the different types of employment contracts in Poland, including fair salaries.

“Our project will provide essential advice and support to help refugees find work and make sure they are not vulnerable to exploitation,” said COZZ Director, Rafal Tomasiak. “We hope to get people on the ground as soon as possible.”

In a longer-term strategy, UNI intends to initiate a three-year plan to support refugees into the care sector in Poland, Czechia and Hungary. As well as help workers find jobs, the programme will include language training and link workers to good employers.

 Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, said:

“UNI is watching in horror at the relentless bombardment of civilians by Russian forces in Ukraine and we stand united in calling for an immediate ceasefire. With many Ukrainian’s homes and livelihoods destroyed in this war, getting work is a priority and this programme will provide hands on help to refugees in Poland, Czechia and Hungary.”

Photo @Shutterstock: Warsaw, Poland – March 9, 2022: Volunteers help refugees from Ukraine at the railway station in Warsaw, Poland