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Labor migration: Between unscientific fantasy and unreal measures

11.12.2012  |  15:20

Labor migration: Between unscientific fantasy and unreal measures. 28817.jpeg

Yesterday, on December 10, Alexei Zakharov, the head of the portal, Russia's largest website on employment, appealed to the President of Russia in an open letter demanding to take tough political decisions related to a complete ban of importation of cheap laborfoorce into the Russian Federation. Experts generally share a tough assessment of the Russian migration policy; however, they consider it unreal to completely abandon the flow of migrants today.

Zakharov begins his letter from a criticism of plans to create about 25 million "good and high-paying" jobs by 2020 (a figure released in pre-election articles by Vladimir Putin. - Ed.). According to the head of the portal, "real policies in the areas of personnel is leading to the fact that by 2020 there will be created additional 25 million jobs for low-skilled workers ... in addition to 10-15 million jobs created for them now".

"Of course, we understand that we have taken the course on the innovative development of Russia", said further in the letter. "And what is innovation? This is increase of competitiveness through the application of advanced methods of production management, cost reduction, etc. In this sense, attracting of a large number of low-wage and low-skilled labor force generally working beyond the legal framework in slave-like conditions - this is unconditional innovation that enables organizations to reduce costs and become more competitive".

This kind of "innovation", Zakharov continues, makes "millions of our fellow citizens absolutely noncompetitive". "According to our research, 18% of our fellow citizens already feel a real competition with immigrants from Central Asia. And 25% of low-skilled young Russians and low-skilled older people state on the competition, and this is a terrible figure, Mr President!" the businessman appeals to the head of state.

"We are planning in the coming years to spend hundreds of billions of rubles for attraction and adaptation of migrants. If we spend this money on the additional education of our citizens, there is a chance that after 20 years we still would not forget how to fly in space", Zakharov continues. "But the money is not enough! It's necessary today (tomorrow will be too late) to completely close the Russian labor market for unskilled migration from abroad. Completely! No quotas".

"Inability to attract cheap labor force will make businesses invest in the innovations, increase productivity, create "good" jobs. No other way. Either degradation (and its velocity is increasing), or tough political decision", Zakharov concludes.

Co-chair of the Consumers Union of Russia, member of the Bureau of the party "Yabloko" Anatoly Golov shares Zakharov's opinion. He calls the creation of 25 million high-paying jobs by 2020 "non-science fiction". "We have 70 million economically active people", Golov said in an interview to the Big Caucasus. "Slightly over 40 million people pay contributions to the pension fund. Roughly, 40 million - this is the number of jobs. Of these, about half are in the field of trade. Obviously, it is impossible to double the number of jobs by 2020, at expense of high-paying jobs".

Golov emphasizes that high-tech jobs do not appear in our country, since today's Russian economy requires innovation. "Here do not appear vacancies in the universities, research institutes, but the workers are always required in retail stores or at the construction site. Trading and construction do not need innovation, and we almost do not develop areas requiring innovations", says the expert.

In turn, president of the association "Confederation of Labor of Russia", a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights Boris Kravchenko is convinced that the measures proposed by the head of the portal, first, are unreal, and secondly, can cause substantial damage to the country, "since Russia cannot cope without the influx of foreign workers". "Another thing is that we must stop the dumping of foreign labor force", Kravchenko added in an interview to the Big Caucasus. "We should fully equalize the rights of a migrant worker with a Russian worker. We should similarly defend his social and labor rights, give him the opportunity to join labor union, pay any necessary fees, including contributions to health and pension funds".

According to Kravchenko, after the elimination of unfair competition in the labor market for the employer it will be unprofitable to use foreign labor, and all the distortions associated with this problem will be corrected. "And the people who come to us from abroad will not suffer from injustice and fear of each policeman. We should chose this path, and not to forbid him to earn an honest piece of bread in our country", says the member of the Human Rights Council.

However, the head of the "Confederation of Labor of Russia" stresses that his organization was in favor of protectionist measures in the national labor market, "since the Russian worker, whatever nationality he is, no matter in what republic he lives, must have access to normal permanent high-paying jobs with good working conditions".


Badma Byurchiev


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