Vietnamese citizens have asked to be allowed to remain in the Czech
Republic if they lose their jobs. At a meeting with Interior Ministry
officials, leaders of the Vietnamese community said they were capable of
supporting one another in the event of being laid off, arguing that
possible deportation was too heavy-handed a measure on the part of the
Czech authorities. The Vietnamese leaders said their compatriots would
prefer to stay in the Czech Republic and do community service, for
The Czech government recently launched a scheme to give laid-off workers from non-EU states EUR 500 and a ticket home. So far around 550 people – most of them from Mongolia – have signed up for the programme, which is open to 2,000 foreigners in its first phase. Only 20 or 25 people from Vietnam have taken up the offer.
A Vietnamese citizen named Le Kim Thanh, who briefly went on hunger strike in protest at a deportation order, is to be expelled from the country in the next few weeks, a spokesperson for the Czech police said on Wednesday. The man lost his right to remain in the Czech Republic when he lost his job and his case has received a good deal of attention. While the human rights minister, Michael Kocáb, said Le Kim Thanh should be allowed to stay in the country, the minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, said he had broken Czech law and had to go. His lawyer is appealing the expulsion order.
Under new legislation which comes into effect on Monday, foreigners who have lost their job as a result of the Czech economic downturn will be able to claim a free plane ticket home and 500 euros expenses from the Czech government. Interior Minister Ivan Langer has said that he hopes around 2000 foreign workers will take up the government’s offer in the next eight months. The government predicts that up to 12,000 foreign workers could lose their jobs in the next couple of months. The Interior Ministry has set aside 60.7 million crowns (2.6 million USD) in a bid to encourage these foreigners to return home. Interior Minister Ivan Langer has said that rising unemployment rates amongst foreigners could lead to an increase in organized crime, while human rights groups say that the government’s plan will prove ineffective.
With unemployment rising fast in the Czech Republic, it is often guest workers from states like Vietnam and Mongolia who are the first to be laid off – with redundancy meaning they immediately lose their legal status. Now the government has come out with a new scheme to give 2,000 unemployed foreigners a one-way ticket home, and a 500-euro payment.
On Thursday evening the young journalist Jan Gebert received an award from the European Commission’s “For Diversity. Against Discrimination” campaign. The Czech national prize is for a piece he wrote for the magazine Reflex about Mongolian factory workers in a small town in Moravia. Though the article was published last year, the subject is topical, with the problems posed by rising unemployment among foreign workers making headlines recently.
Rising unemployment spells bad news for the hundreds of thousands of non-nationals working in the Czech Republic. Things are especially difficult for workers from outside the European Union, who when they lose a job also quickly lose their legal status. Now the Czech authorities are preparing a system under which such workers could be given a flight ticket – and a cash incentive – to return to their countries of origin.
In Business News this week: with Czech industrial output falling by 17.4 percent, the vice-governor of the central bank says growth this year could slow to as low as 0.5 percent; over two thirds of Czech firms say they are finding it harder to get bank loans; the number of foreigners joining the Czech workforce falls by 20 percent; the head of IKEA says the firm will open two new stores in the Czech Republic, including one of its biggest in Europe; and more Czech banks are to introduce smart ATMs.
In just a few days, it will be easier for foreigners to come to work in the Czech Republic – or at least for some of them. Czech authorities have issued a list of 12 countries whose citizens will be eligible for the Czech green card which combines work and residence permits. Most Czech employers welcome the new provision as they hope it will make the Czech labour market more accessible. But the choice of the countries included on the Green card list has raised eyebrows.