Wales politics

Poles exploited at work 'in way Welsh would not put up with'

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Media captionCarwyn Jones has expressed anger at reports of abuse directed at migrants following the EU referendum result.

Poles are exploited at work in a way Welsh people would not put up with, First Minister Carwyn Jones has said.

Mr Jones, who visited a Polish centre in Llanelli on Thursday, expressed anger at reports of abuse aimed at migrants following the Brexit vote.

He said: "Every country has idiots and Wales has them as well."

One Swansea racial equality chief reported cases of abuse, including people being told to "go home".

"A lot of Welsh people who would be surprised how bad the working conditions of a lot of Polish people in Wales actually are," he told BBC Wales.

"There's a lot of exploitation going on here. Welsh people wouldn't put up with it."

"There are Polish people living here who don't know where they are working from one week to the next. They are brought in by agencies, and they have very insecure employment."

Mr Jones said: "People I know are feeling angry at the moment, but my message is don't take your anger out on another group of people.

"Take your anger out on a system that has actually left people in a position where they don't have secure jobs, they don't have pensions, they don't feel they've got security."

Mr Jones, who met members of Llanelli's Polish Welsh Association, said there "are some people who think the vote has given them the ability to go and abuse other people".

"Every country has idiots and Wales has them as well," he said.

"There's no reason why people who are different should be abused that way.

"Where does it all end at the end of the day? We're a welcoming country, we're a country of immigrants actually."

Image copyright Welsh Polish Mutual Association
Image caption A poster of Polish airmen who fought with the Allies in World War Two was pinned to the door of a Polish centre in Llanelli

Earlier Mr Jones said he was "shocked and appalled by the increase in racial tensions and verbal abuse towards people from ethnic minority communities during the past week".

"We will not stand for any form of racism in Wales and we will tackle this unacceptable behaviour head on," he said.

He said he was "heartened by the public outpouring of support and gratitude for ethnic communities living in Wales" and "proud to hear about the note of thanks pinned anonymously on the door of Llanelli's Polish Welsh Association".

"Migrants have made, and continue to make, an immense contribution to Welsh life and I want to reassure foreign nationals living here that they remain valued members of our society.

"Please hear my message loud and clear - you are still welcome here."

'Snide remarks'

Mr Jones also visited young people and families helped by the Ethnic Youth Support Team in Swansea.

Chief executive of Swansea Bay Racial Equality Council, Taha Idris, said: "People tell us that they have started to experience direct abuse such as 'what are you still doing here, go back home' to snide remarks made in their presence about stopping all immigration.

"We are concerned that the next stage in this process could be physical assaults occurring on our streets.

"People who have made Swansea Bay their home for years need reassurance."

Rocio Cifuentes, director of the Ethnic Youth Support Team (EYST) in Swansea, said she welcomed the first minister's "message of reassurance".

"Now is the time for all of us as individuals, communities and political leaders to redouble our efforts, and our voices of tolerance and reason need to be louder than the voices of intolerance and bigotry," she said.

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