Saturday, 21 July 2018

Právo: Ukrainian workers' applications flood Czech authorities

ČTK |
27 December 2017

Prague, Dec 22 (CTK) - Ukrainians' interest in working in the Czech Republic keeps growing and the government quota for applications for employment cards for Ukrainians has risen from 170 to 1,000 per month within two years, but the authorities are unable to cope with it, daily Pravo wrote on Friday.

A special regime for Ukraine that allows Czech employers to target future workers directly in Ukraine, who are then eligible to request work permits in a speeded procedure, is contributing to the inflow of manpower. Last year, a total of 10,104 applicants were admitted in the speeded procedure, while the original intention was to bring 3,800 Ukrainians to the country per year, Pravo writes.

Instead of the anticipated inflow of specialists, owing to the current low unemployment levels, companies tend to seek cheap workforce though, Pravo writes.

Although the Foreign Ministry and the Interior Ministry, which guarantee the programme, assess it as successful and want to continue with it, they are struggling with processing the permits. While in August 2016, it took the authorities one week to process an application, it takes up to 114 days in December 2017, Pravo cites a recent Foreign Ministry report as saying.

Increasing the number of Czech staff apparently does not resolve the fact that the Ukrainian consulate is equally as limited in its current capacity, Pravo writes.

Former foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD), currently the chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, says the original intent of the programme, which was to bring in qualified workforce, has been lost, Pravo writes.

"In the beginning, after a tripartite agreement, that is with the trade unions and employers, we wanted to attract skilled workers from Ukraine, some with added value, in the professions that our industry needed, Zaoralek told Pravo.

Zaoralek told Pravo he thought two types of workers are being formed in the country: one that is secured well and "a second grade" of cheap workers, often from Ukraine, who would not be able to integrate into society.

It is mainly companies that push for the inflow of Ukrainians. The foreign ministry's report quotes professional organisations as claiming that up to 150,000 foreign workers would be needed for the economy, Pravo writes.

Zaoralek said he believes, though, that the country should strengthen its employment level internally, as there is no need to produce more and import Eastern labourers, Pravo writes.

Trade unions have been pointing out that the pressure of Eastern cheap labour is pushing Czech wages down, which have at last been rising, Pravo writes.

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