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HN: Czech firms dismiss info on crime rise due to foreigners

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Prague, Jan 24 (CTK) – Czech business firms have dismissed Interior Minister Milan Chovanec’s assertion that foreign employees are to blame for the rise in crime in certain industrial areas and that the state must crack down on the offenders, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes yesterday.
The employers say foreign staff are indispensable for them because there is no more Czech workforce to recruit.
In their effort to employ foreigners, however, the employers face permanent administrative obstacles on the part of the state, HN writes.
A crushing majority of foreign employees pose no problem. If some troubles arise, they are mostly trifles, the employers say.
“By successfully completing a several-month admission procedure…, a foreigner shows their real interest in the given position and they behave accordingly. For example, companies show a rising demand for Ukrainian workers and they are satisfied with them,” Eva Velickova, spokeswoman for the Czech Industry Confederation, is quoted as saying.
Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) first criticised foreign workers at a closed meeting of the CSSD in December.
Although Czech ministers have been assuring the public that they want to facilitate the process of employing foreigners, Chovanec made it clear that foreigners pose a problem.
“It is good that the CSSD does not let foreign workers in the country. The arriving ones carry problems. We need to employ our people preferentially,” Chovanec said, adding that it is foreigners who cause the biggest problems.
When speaking to reporters last week, he mentioned two problematic areas, the Borska pole industrial zone in west Bohemia, where he will probably lead the CSSD in the autumn general election, and Kvasiny, east Bohemia, where thousands of employees, Czechs as well as foreigners, have been admitted by the Skoda car maker for its new plant.
“Statistics clearly show that foreigners have contributed to the considerably rising number of offences,” Chovanec said.
“I do not want to arouse xenophobia, nor do I want to play against foreigners, but the figures are clear. We face real problems and we have to solve them,” he said.
He said police patrols might be reinforced in the vicinity of big industrial zones.
He suggested that companies should consider sacking employees after committing one or two offences.
He stated that foreigners tend to evade paying fines, which is why the police will start taking items such as cell phones, cameras from them as pawns.
However, a detailed study of the statistics shows that in Kvasiny, for example, Czech offenders far outnumber foreign ones. In addition, both Czechs and foreigners mostly commit mere traffic misdemeanours, mainly wrong parking, HN writes.
Skoda Auto employees breach the rules by parking in the Kvasiny village instead of a car park in the plant complex, Kvasiny Mayor Alice Novakova told the paper.
She said Kvasiny and other villages really need help in tackling problems linked to the rising number of workforce in the area, but irrespective of their nationality.

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