Until the outbreak of war, Ukrainian citizens were the main support for the Polish labour market. Economic considerations made them eager to take up employment in Poland, where the minimum wage is up to four times higher than in Ukraine. The war limited the inflow of Ukrainian men to Poland who could not leave their homeland, which generated staff gaps in the Polish labour market. Employers had to open up to citizens from other eastern countries and Asia. Some of the staff gaps have been successfully filled by workers from Belarus, Georgia and Moldova, for whom working and pay conditions in Poland are far better than in their home countries. According to ZUS data, 1.057 million foreigners were registered for insurance at the end of January 2023. Most foreigners came from Ukraine – 737.7 thousand, Belarus – 110.3 thousand, Georgia – 26.5 thousand.
Rising inflation and disproportionately rising wages make it easier for citizens of Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova to make a living in Poland than in their home country. Currently, the minimum wage in Ukraine is around PLN 647 net, in Moldova PLN 799, in Belarus PLN 981 and in Georgia PLN 1360, while in Poland the minimum that an employee must receive is PLN 2709 net, or even four times more. In turn, a comparison of shopping baskets, compiled by OTTO Work Force Central Europe, shows that grocery shopping prices are lowest in Belarus and Poland (73 and 77 PLN respectively), and highest in Ukraine (97 PLN), Georgia (102 PLN) and Moldova (107 PLN). The comparison shopping baskets included basic foodstuffs in the same quantities, according to the average prices of the largest supermarkets in a given country: white bread, milk in a carton, butter, eggs, yellow cheese, pork loin, sugar, white wheat flour, white rice, pasta, potatoes, apples.
So how many days do you have to work for a basic shopping basket? In Poland, we will earn for the above-mentioned groceries in 0.6 days, in Belarus and Georgia in 1.5 days, in Moldova it will take us 2.7 days and in Ukraine as many as 3 days. The greatest disparity between the cost of living and the level of remuneration is therefore seen in Moldova and Ukraine.