Expert polls conducting

March 19, 2011

Is the legalization of the process of labour migration necessary?

Scope of illegal labour migration from Ukraine, according to data from different sources, is from 1% to 10% of able-bodied population. Is the legalization of this process necessary? Do those people, leaving to work abroad, need the state security? The Institute of Human Rights and Prevention of Extremism and Xenophobia (IHRPEX) gathered the experts’ opinions. 

Oleksandr STOIAN, the Head of the Subcommittee for Social Protection and Social Guarantees, Level of Life and Return of Savings to Population of the Parliamentary Committee on Social Policy and Labour: “Migrant workers are mostly highly skilled workers. And the reason for their departure is a low level of salary. Today, we, having noticed that there are no operatives in the country, talked about moving the labor forces for the first time. But why do we need to move the work force, if it is possible to make these people not to leave, for example, to create workplaces, and secondly, to try to return those who has already left, and for them to have the opportunity to work by their profession and receive normal salary. Today, when we talk about pension reform, there is a problem with those who returned to Ukraine from earnings and does not have time to earn a pension. They have invested very little in the Pension Fund, but they will receive a pension for life from there. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the variant of replenishing of the Pension Fund by those who go abroad. In short, it is necessary to build a system that would encourage better working force to remain in the state, rather than go abroad” 

Vasyl NADRAGA, the First Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy: “Labour migration always existed, but at different times and in different systems in different ways. In the USSR era, the part of our citizens departed to Eastern and Western Siberia, to explore these regions, to develop gas and oil deposits. On the other side, in the process of globalization throughout the world, there is always a category of population that is ready to seek fortune abroad. As for the legalization of this process, all citizens need to clearly understand that any trip abroad should begin not only with the desire, but also with study of the situation. There is a whole system in Ukraine of specially licensed by the state enterprises, working on employment abroad. Potential migrants must strictly adhere to formalities in relation to potential employers. The degree of social protection of migrant worker abroad depends primarily on how and where our citizen looks for work. If he accepts the fact that he received the payment “in envelope”, then, of course, any social protection is out of the question. In recent years, Ukraine has taken active measures for conclusion of international treaties, under which a Ukrainian, officially working abroad, would have an appropriate social package. In addition, the changes to legislation governing the transfer of migrant workers in the national Pension Fund were made, and thus giving them the opportunity to obtain the right to a pension on retirement. But, unfortunately, our citizens, having such possibilities, do not show great activity in this area” 

Oleksandr PASKHAVER, the President of the Centre of Economic Development: “Legalized process is always better than the illegal one, and, of course, this also applies to labor migration. The point is that Ukraine must ensure that Ukrainians were provided with all rights of migrant workers in countries where they work. However, the problem is that most of them work illegally, and they just cannot find a legal place of work. And often the need of Ukrainians in jobs abroad is much higher than the opportunities of these countries to provide them. Of course, an active work toward the legalization of labor migration is necessary. First of all, with the governments of those countries, where Ukrainians already work, it is necessary to speak about the legalization of their labor. America has often applied this, the so-called universal “forgiveness” of illegal migrants. It is necessary to fight for the rights of Ukrainians abroad, though, the result will not always by one hundred percent. It is necessary as well to take care of social security and pensions for those who depart. For example, Russia retains pensions for citizens who left the country for various reasons.” 

Oleksii GOLOBUTSKYI, the director of the Situations Modeling Agency: “Recent sociological researches show that about 70% of Ukrainians are ready to work or live abroad. The process of legalization of labor migration largely depends on those countries, where our compatriots work, because most of them work illegally. Ukraine should take the same position as Poland when joined the EU, i.e. to take care of maximum protection for migrant workers. As for the legal protection of labor, we should speak about it after all legally employed citizens on the territory of Ukraine would be protected. And, unfortunately, the situation is different now. But it’s also worth remembering that there are definite limit in Europe to accept our migrant workers. In many European countries politics, with negative attitude to foreign migrants, come to power; from time to time, we hear calls on to expel foreigners who occupy jobs of local citizens from the European extreme right. And these trends will intensify every year. Europe seriously afraid that the 50 million population of Ukraine will flow into the EU in the case of destabilization in the country, it is a huge threat to the European labor market. Indeed, a lot depends on improvement of the economic situation in the country today.” 

Semen GLUZMAN, human rights activist, the Head of the Association of psychiatrists: “The state should start taking care of its citizens. People will leave all the same, and that is normal. The problem is to create comfortable living conditions for citizens in Ukraine, in order them to have possibility to earn for living here. As for the possible social protection of migrants, I do not really understand why we should care about those who decided to leave us? They do not want to return, seeking citizenship of Spain, for example. The first thing is to help those who live in Ukraine”.