Shopkeeper Upsets Jobseekers by Demanding Polish Language Skills

Shopkeeper Naveed Hassamin has infuriated jobseekers in Cornwall by turning away anyone who doesn’t speak Polish.

Mr Hassamin placed an advert in the window of Costcutter in Bodmin, Cornwall, stating that a “knowledge of Polish” was “preferable” for the position.

But he has been forced to withdraw the advertisment after a string of complaints from unemployed local people desperate for work.

Paul Baynon, 23, a jobseeker from Bodmin, said: “They asked me if I spoke Polish, and when I said no, they said that is what they were looking for, so I didn’t have a chance.

“They didn’t say in the ad that they wanted a translator.”

Unemployed local Robert Mill, 27, said: “I would have liked the job at Costcutter because jobs are hard to come by in the town.

“I enquired about the position but I can’t speak Polish.”

The supermarket has a Polish food section and sells the Poland Express newspaper.

Store manager Mr Hassam said he had a lot of Polish customers and required someone who could order the products for him.

The number of Polish migrant workers living in Bodmin – population 13,000 – is not known.

But according to Cornwall Council’s local education authority, there are currently only 23 primary and seven secondary school children attending schools in the area whose first language is Polish.

Mr Hassam said: “I have had complaints but the advert was not intended in a bad way, I have got rid of it now.

“We have a lot of people from Poland coming into the shop and I wanted someone who could understand Polish so they could order products for me and read what they are because I can’t read Polish.

“I didn’t mean it to sound like we only wanted someone from Poland to get the job, it could have been someone from Britain who could speak Polish.

“I just thought employing someone with a knowledge of Polish culture would mean we could provide them with a better service.”

A spokesman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “An employer can say it needs someone who can speak a specific language to do a job if that is a genuine requirement, for example for a translator role.

“This is lawful if the focus is on the skill needed to do the job, not the nationality of the person sought.”

Latest figures for unemployment show that 22 per cent of homes in Cornwall – or 36,200 out of 163,500 households – have no adult working.

Across the South West, more than 277,000 of 1.6 million households were unemployed, representing more than 16 per cent.

But the figure is lower than the national average of nearly 19 per cent, which means more than 20 million households across the country are made up of unemployed people.


Taken from The Telegraph: 18.01.12