Right-wing politicians in Latvia are sounding the alarm. In the country there was a paradoxical situation: because of ignorance of the Russian language the youth can’t find work at home and forced to go abroad. In order to change the situation and strengthen the position of the native language, Parliament propose legislation to oblige the employees of all organizations and enterprises, including private, to communicate in the workplace only in Latvian. “the Tape.ru” understood, why in Latvia the state language is losing ground and how there is a struggle for their consolidation.
Over the years of independence in Latvia has grown a whole generation of young people who do not know Russian language. At the time, their parents were convinced that learning it makes no sense — better to learn English. This choice seemed logical in light of the fact that Latvia is going in the near future to join the European family. It was logical to assume that the Russian-speaking population, in turn, will begin to learn the Latvian — after all the state language.
But something went wrong. Latvia remained a bilingual state where Russian can not escape. Not surprisingly, most employers, especially in the service sector, require candidates equally good knowledge of Latvian and Russian. Now the young people, who at one time made a choice in favor of English, have difficulty with employment. In the presence of jobs at home it is easier to find a job in Europe.
this paradoxical situation first drew attention to right-wing politicians. Recently on Twitter the National unit appeared video, in an accessible form tells about the language problem of the Latvian youth. In the frame of the girl in front of her on the computer monitor announcements of employment. The girl looks one after the other, but everywhere requires knowledge of “krievu valoda” Russian language. Finally she finds a vacancy at no additional language requirements. Is the interview and… on the door of the organization sees the same requirement for applicants — knowledge of Russian. The logical conclusion: the girl collects a suitcase, arrives at the airport and takes a ticket to Dublin.
it is Clear that the situation must somehow be remedied, although to call Latvians in droves to learn the Russian language — a measure extremely unpopular. Another thing is to limit the use of Russian. In an attempt to rectify the situation, the national unit has developed a special amendment to the Law on labor. They give the right employee in the performance of official duties to communicate with the residents of Latvia only in Latvian. According to the parliamentarian from the Netblock Edwin Schnoor, thus it is possible to protect the Latvians, giving them a legitimate opportunity to talk in working hours in other languages.
I Must admit that this is not the first legislative attempt to limit the Russian language in the professional sphere. Six years ago, the Saeima considered the draft law, prohibiting to demand from the applicant of the knowledge of foreign languages in employment. Then, in 2012, members attended to the statistical data, according to which in the largest cities of the Republic there is an absolute hegemony of Russian language, especially in the private sector. It is not surprising, because in the big cities of Russian-speaking is at least half of the population. And if you add to them the numerous tourists coming from Russia, it becomes clear desire of employers to hire employees with knowledge of the Russian language: the majority of their customers and business partners speak Russian. In the end, the Latvians can’t find a job not only in private companies but even in government offices, if their customer is dominated by those who speak only Russian.
widely known complaint for “language discrimination” lawyer Evita Kuzma, which is not accepted to work in the human rights Bureau of Latvia (office of the Commissioner for human rights). She had a good command of English, but do not know Russian. She explained that more than half of the clients of public institutions are Russian-speaking, and without appropriate language skills in her work is not enough. “I think that the actions of the Ombudsman is unfair and discriminatory. Especially a pity that so goes the institution the mission of which is to combat discrimination in Latvia”, — wrote in its complaint Kuzma.
A few months ago in the Latvian media animatedly discussed the history of trauma Dita the Danos. She claimed that her leadership of the clinic in Riga forced her to quit because of the reluctance to talk with patients and colleagues in Russian.
the Netblock co-Chairman Raivis Dzintars sure that the young man was “lucky” to grow up in a small Latvian town, where knowledge of Russian is not a necessity, the current situation does not Bode well. It is no secret that the greatest number of vacancies are in a large city, and there the employer is looking for Russian speakers. Unable to find work at home, he will be forced to go look for her in Ireland, the UK or another European country. According to Dzintars, a paradox and a sad irony is that not forced to leave those who do not know the state language, and not Vice versa. In the end multilingual Russian in Latvia are much more successful than monolingual Latvian neighbors.
But the legislative limitations, the most obvious solution to this problem. When in 2012 the deputies decided to forbid to demand from candidates knowledge of foreign languages, the move was opposed by the Latvian Confederation of employers (LKR). CEO of LKR League Mengelsone believes that in a situation when the state limits the employer choose the most qualified experts, the country will be very difficult to build a competitive business.
Even a member of the Netblock, the Minister of culture žaneta Jaunzeme-Grende said that the knowledge of Russian language would be useful for Latvian children. “How is it that children growing up in a Russian-speaking family, richer than ours? — says Jaunzeme-Grende. — Very simple: they are fluent in Russian and Latvian, but the Latvian children have become poorer, as do not speak Russian”.
However, when employers were given to understand that bill is not afraid and that these restrictions can easily be circumvented. For example, in Latvia it is forbidden to specify age limits in job ads, but it doesn’t hurt anyone to deny too young or older applicants. And foreign language. Can you think of any other reason — people don’t even understand why he was not taken.
But if the Seimas will pass the new amendments of the Netblock, employers will not be so easy to deny the applicant. According to the leader of the Latvian party “For native language!” Vladimir Linderman, the bill provides that if an applicant or employee to complain that he was not accepted or dismissed because of ignorance of the Russian language, to prove the opposite to the employer. “That doctor gently turn out for refusing to communicate with patients in Russian, will be able to destroy their employers, if the amendments are adopted, — the politician says. — Let’s say the employee was fired for drunkenness, but he argues that the ignorance of the Russian language. And the employer will have to prove that he was right. It’s a waste of time, money, effort, etc…”
Linderman also fears that they will now begin to discriminate against the Russian-speaking workers. He proposes to consider a typical example: the owner of the shop needs a shop assistant. Into place expect the citizen Ivanov, and the citizen the daily mail. Ivanova native language — Russian, Latvian she understands and can communicate with customers. At Janson native language — Latvian, in Russian does not speak at all.
— it would Seem that we must take on the work of Ivanov that usually happens in such cases, says Linderman. But authorities impose the rate at which the employee is not required to know Russian language. And if in our case the store owner will give preference Ivanova, Janson may file a complaint against him in court. The entrepreneur will have to prove his innocence, to think of any other good reason. But if his arguments do not convince the court — a fine of up to five thousand euros. What is worse for the entrepreneur to lose a certain amount of Russian buyers, or get under the repression of the state machine? It is clear that the store owner pomeritsya and take on the work of the citizen Janson. Nothing will master in a couple of months hundreds of Russian words, as buyers will tolerate. Everything is better than to be dragged through the courts and carry a note to the state language Centre (CGE).
However, in the struggle of the Latvian politicians for the position of the native language and the rights of its speakers sometimes there are excesses. CGA, by the way, is considered in Latvia institution is very powerful. The centre has the right to penalize and dismiss a person for poor knowledge of Latvian. Moreover, in the recent past there were cases when the Center through the court deprived mandates are chosen by the people members.
And now the inspectors CGA obsessed with Richard ahima — mayor of the second largest city of Daugavpils is predominantly Russian-speaking population. opinion inspectors CGA, mayor Agim failed the proposed tests. In October last year, the Centre has already fined it for “lack of knowledge of Latvian sufficient”. At that time he was given six months to improve knowledge of the state language. If Agim and this time failed the exam, he most likely will have to leave his post.
This history hardly would deserve special attention compared to other, if not one circumstance. A statement to the SLB on his former colleague and competitor wrote ex-mayor of Daugavpils Andrew Elksnin.
Elksnin was elected deputies of the city Assembly of the city of Daugavpils in June of last year — immediately after the next municipal elections. But in just two months, the deputies were disappointed in his choice and by a majority of voters re-elected former mayor Richard agema. Shortly thereafter deposed the mayor has accused a competitor in a bad knowledge of the state language, and now the current mayor may remove from office.
If ahima can become for Latvia as a kind of Pandora’s box, when method is quite obvious and justified concerns about the native language will start settling accounts. However, there is a silver lining. An example of the mayor of Daugavpils was a lesson for other Russian-speaking politicians who are now trying to find the time to sit on a textbook of the Latvian. And there is nothing wrong. On the contrary, it is strange that they haven’t done it before. In European countries, for example, a good knowledge of the state language — the first thing a politician thinks of starting his career.
But the benefits of the Netblock of the new amendments to the Law on labour is not so obvious. And it’s not only that the negligent employees after layoffs, say, in the drunkenness begin to accuse employers in language discrimination. Worse, because such artificial restrictions in Latvia reduced competition in the labour market, as mentioned by the head of LKR League Mengelsone. It hardly hit small and medium-sized businesses in the retail trade, but for big business, anyway focused on Russia, the new rules will be an unpleasant surprise.