A LEADING union has warned that Polish workers in the region are at risk of being exploited by their employers, according to a report out today.

TUC Northern has published a study into the employment patters of Polish immigrants in the North-East and North-West, which found that migrant workers are playing an increasingly important role in the region.

But the report, called Working in the UK, claims some companies will exploit Polish workers by paying them less and employing them on worse terms and conditions than UK workers.

Report author, Ian Fitzgerald, from the University of Northumbria, concludes that the key to preventing workers from being exploited is for unions to step up their efforts in recruiting them into membership. He suggests that regional unions should build stronger links with migrant community groups, make links with worker organisations in the host countries and use Polish workers already in membership to recruit more people.

Mr Fitzgerald said: "Whilst the report identifies employers and agencies who are mistreating their workers, it highlights some of the successes that trade unions are having in recruiting and organising Polish workers to obtain decent conditions of employment.

"Overall, it confirms that the poor treatment of migrant workers is an issue for all and that these communities can, and will, join trade unions to demand fair and equal treatment."