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Czech News in English » Business » Czech firms: We don't need more foreigners

Czech firms: We don’t need more foreigners

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Halting the inflow of new guest workers to the country? Too late. This is the reaction of Czech companies and even job agencies to last week’s decision of Czech authorities to suspend work and business visas for five countries outside the European Union.

Companies welcome the measure despite the fact that employment offices register nearly 30,000 vacancies meant for foreigners.

Doctors, nurses, cooks, waitresses, bricklayers, welders, but also unskilled workers for the industry, forestry and agriculture. These are jobs for which companies have been unable to find Czech workers and which they are willing to offer to foreigners. From the European Union or even from faraway countries.

Despite that, businesses regard the suspension of new work and business visas for nationals from Vietnam, Mongolia, Ukraine, Moldova and Thailand as a wise solution.

“There are enough unemployed foreigners in the Czech Republic. It is not necessary to let new ones to the country,” said Armen Sargsyan, sales director at Czech underwear producer A.G.J. The company with some twenty employees is now searching for another ten unskilled labourers to work at its semi-automatic production lines.

“The point is to direct the unemployed foreigners to where they can find jobs,” said Jaroslav Malchar, executive at the construction company Mofis Czech that is now searching for twenty bricklayers.

At the end of January, there were over 272,000 foreigners legally working in the Czech Republic, a decline of 12,000 against the previous month. The Interior Ministry estimates that dozens of thousands of foreigners will see their work permits expire in the middle of the year. Some of them will only be able to apply for a new permit if they find a new job.

Although more than a thousand guest workers have applied to the government programme of voluntary departures, the ministry is aware of the fact that a significant number of the unemployed foreign workers do not want to return home. Due to bribes for the go-betweens and travel expenses, they have debts reaching as many as USD 14,000 in their home countries.

What’s more – various shady mediators kept on supplying new and new foreigners. “Something had to be done. It is hard to say how long visas – except the tourist ones – will be suspended. Simply until the situation on our labour market improves,” said Tomáš Haišman, head of the asylum and migration policy department at the Interior Ministry.

Jaroslav Míl, president of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, which represents some 1,600 companies, agrees with such an opinion.

“It is necessary to deal in particular with the situation of those foreigners who are already here and do not have a job. And not to make the problem worse by importing new ones,” Míl said in reaction to the government’s decision to suspend the visas.

The Chamber of Commerce is one of few critics of the measure. “With the situation in individual companies changing very quickly, introducing any such obstacles on the labour market is not the best solution,” Chamber president Petr Kužel said.

“I do not understand much the statements from the Chamber of Commerce. Issuing more work visas and especially business visas for foreigners would be a crime,” HR director at the agency Zetka – Auto, Libor Novotný, commented on Kužel’s opinion.

Zetka – Auto is the main supplier of workers to Škoda Auto and foreigners make up a large part of the workforce the agency offers. The car manufacturer now needs to hire a thousand new agency workers to expand production. “We do have the people they need at our disposal,” Novotný said.

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