Trade Unions Oppose Proposed Amendments Intended to Ease Import of Third-Country Workers

Trade Unions Oppose Proposed Amendments Intended to Ease Import of Third-Country Workers

Sofia, February 19 (BTA) - The Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CITUB) believes that measures are needed to attract skilled Bulgarians back home and that amendments easing the import of workers from third countries are unnecessary. At a news conference on Monday, CITUB President Plamen Dimitrov commented the latest proposals for revisions of the Labour Migration and Labour Mobility Act, moved by MPs, which, in his words, "back demands of part of the business community".

As few as 5,156 third-country nationals from 52 countries gained access to the Bulgarian labour market last year, of whom nearly 4,000 were for seasonal employment of up to 90 days and the rest under the other access arrangements: Blue Card and a single permit to reside and work, Dimitrov said.

The foreigners' reluctance is also confirmed by the attitude of the business community and the governments of Moldova and Ukraine, two countries regarded as a potential source of workforce for the Bulgarian labour market. "For eight months now, the two draft agreements cannot be finalized for lack of interest, the only one that is finalized is the agreement with Armenia," the CITUB leader said.

Dimitrov does not see a reason for scrapping the labour market test and the list of professions that qualifies skilled and educated migrants for a Blue Card. Nor is there any reason to increase the proportion of third-country nationals working at a given enterprise from 10 per cent now to 20 per cent, as proposed. These proportions do not apply to seasonal employment - "you can import as many Ukrainians as you wish," the tradeunionist specified. He is perplexed why the Labour and Social Minister proposed that the social partners may rather than must be consulted about changes concerning labour mobility.

According to the MPs' proposals, the validity of third-country nationals' work permits is to be increased from three to five years, Dimitrov said, adding that this means that on the fifth year the foreigner would automatically become eligible for permanent residence and Bulgarian citizenship. "While it is uncertain whether this is good or bad, lawmakers should take their time," he pointed out. CITUB and Podkrepa will ask for a debate of these proposals at the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation.

Another proposal baffling the CITUB experts is that researchers coming to Bulgaria from third countries should conclude just a hosting agreement rather than an employment contract or contract for services with the research organizations.

The CITUB insist on full respect for the civil and social-security rights of university-degree-holding interns who work in this country or such who come to serve their internship here after the second year of study in Bulgaria.

Source: Sofia