Workers Will Follow Work

Labour and Return Migration at the Onset of COVID-19

5 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting migrant workers’ lives. Whether or not it is really causing them to relocate en masse is yet to be determined. One thing we can be sure of is that they will go where the work is.

In the last days of March, Ukraine’s ambassador to Poland stated that in just ten days, over 100 thousand Ukrainian nationals crossed the border to return to their home country.

According to a quarterly report on Central and Eastern European (CEE) economies from UniCredit, the Romanian press is sharing estimates about 300 thousand emigrants returning from Western Europe, especially from Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Signals of increased numbers of workers both returning to CEE countries from the West and leaving to go home elsewhere can be heard from various sources in the region. This raises several questions. How significant is this trend? What are the specific reasons for which workers are relocating? How will this influence the economies in the region?

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Martyna Trykozko

Journalist, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of 300gospodarka.pl. Based in Warsaw.

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