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National Alliance urges employees to speak in state language

Raivis Dzintars, the leader of the National Alliance/flickr.com.
The National Alliance asked coalition partners to support amendments to the Labour Law that would make it so employees, when performing their duties, are to communicate with Latvian residents in the state language, as reported by party’s representatives.

NA Saeima faction leader Raivis Dzintars comments: «The fact that some employers forbid employees to communicate with residents using state language is humiliating. If our proposed amendments are supported, every employee working in the service industry will have the right to speak to Latvians in Latvian language.»

Representatives of the political party say that amendments are needed to prevent a situation in Latvia when employers are requested to have specific foreign language skills (most often Russian) for no reason, even when the job in question has nothing to do with providing services to foreign clients or partners.

It is also mentioned that according to statistical data half of Latvia’s population live in seven of Latvia’s largest cities and that only 40% of those people are Latvia. With that, the presence of Russian-speaking residents is significant, especially in private companies. In such a situation, employers request Russian language skills either at the interview process or shortly after taking in an employee. This is because the majority of their clients and employees do not speak Latvian.

The proportion of Latvians in regions and smaller cities is 75% (90% in Kurzeme and Vidzeme). This means there is no real need to learn and use Russian language. Those municipalities and cities theoretically would be unable to ensure enough Russian language teachers if pupils decided to learn Russian instead of German, for example. Only 35% of pupils in schools that teach in Latvian language have learned Russian language as a foreign language in the past sixteen years. In 2016, Russian language was picked as a second foreign language by only 32% of pupils.

«The labour market in Latvia’s largest cities, which traditionally have lower unemployment levels and higher quality of life, has formed in such a way that employers request equal knowledge of Latvian and Russian language. With that, the absolute majority of Latvians that do not speak Russian are basically unable to work in many private companies and state institutions if the number of Russian-speaking clients is critically high,» party’s members claim.

«As a result – schools with Russian language as the main teaching language and subjects like Russian, Latvian and English are the most appropriate for the needs of Latvia’s labour market. Schools with Latvian language as the main teaching language, on the other hand, primarily teach Latvian, English, German, and only then does Russian language follow. This is one of the reasons for labour force exports to England, Ireland, USA, Germany and other countries that use English and German language. With Latvian youngsters seeking job opportunities abroad, Latvia’s language space becomes more Russian.»

It is also added – to resolve this problem and stop the discrimination of non-Russian speakers in Latvia, the legislative draft states that employers do not have the right to request foreign language skills for no reason. With amendments, it would be allowed to request foreign language skills only if it is not possible to perform a specific job without them.

«The law will be added with a requirement that will prohibit employers from requesting knowledge of a language that is not a European language,» says NA.

It should be said that Dzintars believes that approval of this proposal would reduce the discrimination of non-Russian speakers in Latvia’s labour market and help reduce emigration of Latvians from the country to look for better jobs in western countries. In a long-term perspective, this would have a positive effect on the demographic situation and labour force deficit in Latvia, as well as reduce the expansion of Russian language in Latvia.


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