24 April 2007
Press Notice No 6
WELSH AFFAIRS COMMITTEE VISIT TO THE CZECH REPUBLIC AND POLAND
GLOBALISATION AND ITS IMPACT ON WALES
The Welsh Affairs Committee has visited Poland and the Czech Republic as part of its inquiry into globalisation and its impact on Wales, particularly in relation to employment.
The Committee’s aim was to look at UK and Welsh investors who have moved overseas, their rationale for doing so, and their subsequent success or failure. The Committee also looked at employment conditions and earnings in plants which have re-located.
During its visit to Prague and the Ostrava region of the Czech Republic the Committee met with the Health Minister, representatives from investment companies, trade unions and the ministry for Regional Development.
In Poland the Committee met with Dr Olaf Gajl, Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, with members of the British business community, the Polish inward investment agency, and with the Polish trade union “Solidarity”.
In both countries the Committee saw evidence of the social consequences of large-scale economic change, as Poland and the Czech Republic prepare for and adapt to the reality of EU membership. Both economies have entered a period of significant transition and workers in traditional industries, including the mining industry, face a very different future. For younger workers in particular, there are also new opportunities to work abroad, which impacts both on the communities they leave and those they move to - although we heard that most return. We are concerned that those who come to work in the UK should be fully aware of their employment rights, as we have heard anecdotal evidence that in Wales this is not always the case.
The significance of EU structural funds and the effectiveness of tax breaks as a way of attracting businesses was apparent in both Poland and the Czech Republic, as was the crucial importance of fostering close links between education and industry. Time and again the importance of a highly skilled yet flexible workforce was emphasised.
Chairman of the Committee Dr Hywel Francis MP said: “We found this visit extremely useful as part of our inquiry into the impact of globalisation on Wales, and in particular into current employment trends.
“After the relocation of a number of Welsh and UK businesses to Poland and the Czech Republic, we wanted to see what their motivation for doing so was and how they fared once there.
“We were also keen to look at employment conditions in these countries and to see what impact outward migration to Wales, the UK and elsewhere has had.”
Information about the work of the Welsh Affairs Committee is available on the Committee’s Homepage at:
Membership of the Committee:
Dr Hywel Francis MP (Chairman), Mr Stephen Crabb MP, David T. C. Davies MP, Nia Griffith MP, Mrs Siân C. James MP, Mr David Jones MP, Mr Martyn Jones MP, Albert Owen MP, Jessica Morden MP, Hywel Williams MP, Mark Williams MP