B. Voskoboynikov: “Our compatriots are the last great reserve of labour in Europe”

В. Воскобойник: «Наши соотечественники являются последним большим резервом рабочей силы в Европе»

In the absence of competent social and economic policy of the Ukrainian authorities, our compatriots are forced to look for better earnings outside the country, in the European Union. In Europe more and more countries are interested in attracting Ukrainians in the absence of personnel. If earlier, Poland considers Ukraine as a source of new workers to replace the departure of its citizens to work in the neighboring country, now it will have to compete for the Ukrainian labour migrants with other States, which can offer higher salaries. To discuss the current situation and prospects of labour migration from Ukraine, the correspondent of ГолосUA talked to the President of the Ukrainian Association of companies in international employment Vasily Voskoboynik.

– Vasyl, what, in your opinion, we can summarize the results of migration from Ukraine to Europe for 2018? How the situation changed compared to 2017? What we should particularly pay attention to?

In 2018, labour migration from Ukraine to the European countries remained at a high level. The largest number of Ukrainians continues to work in Poland (2 million people). The situation began to change compared with the 2017 year. Poland is not so interesting to our compatriots. Becoming popular to go to work in the Baltic countries, where wages is the same as in Poland, but completely lacks the language barrier. You should pay attention to the fact that Ukrainians are “open” to more and more countries of Europe in terms of work and choose the ones where you can earn more. According to recent opinion polls, in Russia, want to work no more than 6-8% of Ukrainians, at the same time in Poland – 26%, Germany 37%. So stating a fact – to date, the majority of Ukrainians want to work in the EU.

– This year hosted the fifth anniversary of the Euromaidan. How has the situation with the labor migration from Ukraine to Europe in the five years from 2013?

Over the years, the level of labour migration from Ukraine significantly increased. In 2010, Poland issued approximately 180 thousand invitations to work for the Ukrainians, in 2017, the year-1 million 700 thousand (almost 10 times more). After the Euromaidan there was a fall in GDP and the income of our citizens (due to the depreciation of the hryvnia), in average 3 times. This had a significant impact on the ability of Ukrainians financially okay to support themselves and their families and has led to increased migration, which for the first time in the entire period of independence has affected a third of the working citizens (9 million, according to the Ministry of social policy).

Given that in Ukraine since 2000, there has been no census, and no real consideration of labour migration, how can we talk about the approximate number of Ukrainians working in Europe, and how these estimates are close to reality? How can you trust the data that publish various research centers and institutes?

– Exact figures on labour migration no one knows. To trust them completely is impossible, all the estimates are close to reality, based on sociological research, the number of labor migrants sent money home, as well as by the governments of other countries, where our citizens. Besides, it is impossible to forget that labour migration from Ukraine – a pendulum, i.e. people are constantly in the process – some went abroad to work, others returned home. For example, in Poland half of Ukrainians working no more than three months.

– In the media from time to time there are news that in Poland some employers are turning to Ukrainian workers almost like slaves. What are the real tools for the protection of migrant workers? And how to be, for example, with illegal migrant workers in this aspect?

– The problem of abuse of Polish employers of the Ukrainian employees is clearly exaggerated. Of course, if we are dealing with 2 million labour migrants from Ukraine in this country, you can register different cases of ill-treatment. But you have to understand that Poland is a European country, where the laws and where the authorities protect people, including labour migrants from abuse. If a citizen works in Poland legally, he has the same rights as the Polish worker. This is the main instrument for protecting migrant worker – work under the contract, receive wages on a credit card (that says that the employee pays taxes), social insurance (including medical). Illegal migrant voluntarily deprives himself of all rights and protection in the host country, in fact gives himself to the employer who, at least, may not pay him the money earned. However, you need to understand that such a thing as “labor slaves”, Poland is severely punishable by law, and it is very difficult to imagine that a little bit large enterprise risked the future of their business for cost reduction through the use of forced labour.

– How different the incomes of Ukrainian labor migrants in Europe? What are the objective criteria for comparison?

– Objective criterion by which to assess the income of Ukrainian migrant workers is the average wage in the country. According to sociological studies conducted in Poland, 93% of our compatriots working in this country hands. The average salary in Poland is now 1100 euros per month. Ukrainians on average get 30% less, i.e. 700-900 euros. About the same you can determine how many our compatriots on the average can actually earn in other countries. If in East Germany the average income is now 2200 Euro, it means that Ukrainian can earn in this country of approximately 1,600 euros per month. But we must not forget that in order to earn the money, labour migrants have to work a lot more than he used to do it at home – six working days per week and 10-12 hours a day.

– It is well known that in the race for poaching Ukrainian labor involved several countries, particularly Germany and the Czech Republic who are working in the direction of facilitate the obtaining of employment. How, in your opinion, will happen in the near future? Because Poland, which sees the Ukrainians one of the tools for the development of its own economy, will now have to compete for them with other, more economically powerful countries (for example Germany)?

– Competition for Ukrainian labor migrants among European countries is increasing. This is due to the fact that our compatriots are the last big labor pool in Europe. They quickly and independently socializers in the host countries, do not require any special conditions, a lot of work. An important factor to facilitate the employment of Ukrainians in Europe is bezviz, which has existed for a year and a half. In addition, the Ukrainian is much cheaper and easier to get to Europe than, for example, Vietnamese or Filipino. If something is not like it, then come back home during the day, which is very difficult for migrants from distant countries, for which the cost of the road is much higher. In addition, the difference in culture, religion, language becomes an additional factor that hinders the successful employment in Europe for people from the distant (mainly Asian) countries.

– Are there any real statistics on how many Ukrainians go to work in Europe and still live there? How Ukrainians manage to naturalize?

In 2017, citizens of Ukraine received 662 thousand residence permits in the EU. The greatest number of Ukrainians got in Poland – 88% of the total, in the Czech Republic – 2.8% and in Hungary – 1,1%. In 2016, the Ukrainians have issued 580 thousand residence permits in 2015 to 500 thousand certificates, and in General this figure has already reached 1 million 750 thousand residence permits in the EU. In 2018 the situation will not change and in 2019 we will be able to state that only in recent years, the number of issued European residence permits for citizens of Ukraine will reach 2.3 to 2.4 million people. The rest of the Ukrainians working abroad, and in Europe in particular, based on work visas and biometric passports (where permitted). What is the number of such citizens in the EU – is not precisely known, but the numbers are also estimated in the millions of people. Similar rates of labour migration in the EU show that Ukraine’s economy is not able to offer professionals a competitive salary. On the other hand, our government does not encourage labor migrants to invest the earned abroad money in business open house small businesses and become entrepreneurs.

– In Ukraine, leaving many experts there is already a shortage of personnel, and in the future it will only increase. What key issues need to be solved in order that the Ukrainians were really interested to come back to Ukraine?

Yet it can be stated that the government acknowledged the mass labour migration from Ukraine. It’s already a success, given that two years ago this subject was taboo. Now we need to go further – to develop a strategy for cooperation between the government of migrant workers and launch a realistic (rather than paper) programs for their return and reintegration into society. Just look at our Western neighbors – Poland, Hungary, Romania, the Baltic States, where millions of citizens have migrated to more developed countries, and we understand that our citizens will continue to go to work abroad. The European direction of their work will bring our country good dividends in the form of citizens who will become European in nature and are not to return to the Soviet past. I hope that the government will create the conditions under which they would return home and do business, develop their territory, to take responsibility for the environment. But this way Ukraine will have to pass quite long. For the economic development of our country will also need attracted migrant workers, and it is also already clear today. To replace the Ukrainians who will work in Europe, can the poor overpopulated countries of Asia. This is a very difficult question, because, apart from economic and purely technical issues, there is still the rejection of the Ukrainian society of representatives of other Nations and ethnic groups, and traditionalism of our citizens. And this, too, will have to work more than one government and President.