Soveltavan politiikan asiantuntija
Onko Pietarin kaupunki valmis kieltäytymään työperusteisestä muuttovirrasta?
Julkaistu: 18.07.2008

Suurimman osan mielestä työperäinen maahanmuutto johtaa rikollisuuden lisääntymiseen siirtolaisten toimesta ja siirtolaisten määrän suureen kasvuun. Allekirjoittanut suhtautuu kriittisestä tällaiseen tuomioon ja tarjoaa vertailevan analyysin asiasta keskittyen laittomuuksien ja todellisen tilanteen analyysiin Pietarin siirtolaistilanteesta. Muut luvut käsittelevät, miten arvioida työperäisten siirtolaisten osaamista, kaupungin ulkomaisen työvoiman kiintiöitä ja tarpeita, maahantulon ja rekisteröinnin järjestämistä, rikollisuutta suhteessa ulkomaalaisiin sekä suvaitsevaisuutta koskevia kysymyksiä. Artikkelissa esitetään kolme vaihtoehtoista ratkaisua kaupungin työperäisen maahanmuuton tärkeimpiin ongelmiin.

Is the city ready to reject labor migrants?

«Migrants, remember that a "guest worker"
differs from a labor migrant
by the lack of necessary documents».

from the website of the Committee of migratory control of Saint Petersburg

At the end of June 2008 the “All-Russian center for public opinion investigation” published the results of an All-Russian investigation devoted to interethnic tension when interaction between indigenous population and foreign migrants occurs. 67% of Moscow and Saint Petersburg citizens (on average in Russia this group accounts for 55%) consider the main restraint for such conflicts to be the restriction of foreign unqualified labor force inflow to Russia, and also toughening of their entry and registration procedure. As it turns out, too many unskilled laborers come here, the system of their access to the country is too open, there is no difficulty in obtaining registration and it is these labor migrants who are the main conflict catalyst regarding interethnic hostility. Is it true? I suggest investigating the situation in the migratory sphere, using the example of the region of the federation closest to us – Saint Petersburg.

Excessive inflow of unskilled labor force

Last year more than 300 thousand foreign citizens came to our city. Among these 300 thousand, according to the State Committee on statistics, only 48 thousand people were considered to be immigrants (79,8% were people of able-bodied age), 6,8 thousand were refugees and forced immigrants.
According to statistical data, 210 thousand people came in 2007 for labor activity, but only 85 thousand foreigners obtained labor activity permits in our city. It turns out that only 40% of labor migrants are officially registered at their place of employment. And this represents just 40% of officially obtained labor permits.
Among 210 thousand labor migrants who came to the city, 199 thousand were citizens of CIS member States. The bulk of labor migrants coming to Saint Petersburg consists of citizens of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Ukraine.
These statistics are certainly incomplete, the difference between qualified and unqualified workers is not mentioned, there is no gradation of different labor activity areas, it only provides legal migration data.
Illegal migration inflows in Saint Petersburg were estimated by experts at 100-250 thousand individuals last year, i.e. a few times more than officially arrived migrants, though nobody dares provide exact data. The total amount of fines collected for employing illegal foreign workers, created for St.Petersburg employers, have exceeded 350 million rubles since January 2007– that’s quite a good income item in the city budget.
The qualification of workers coming to the city is determined by the enterprises’ needs, as it is they who make applications to the state bodies, which in their turn approve quotas for labor migrants’ entry. Most requests to obtain permits to employ foreign workers concern unskilled personnel, 34% – requests for skilled workers, about 2% – for engineers and technicians. 37% of permits are given to construction companies, 25,8% – to the service industries, 11,8% – to the manufacturing industry, 9,13% – to the transport and communication sector. Being an equivalent to the official labor-market, construction, trade, transport and catering are the main work sectors providing a post for illegal immigrants. How excessive are these labor migrants volumes from abroad rushing annually to Saint Petersburg? How much does the city really need? It is necessary to look at the city’s need for personnel.

The needs of the city

It is profitable for Russian and St.Petersburg companies in particular to employ foreign workers. In the construction industry for instance, the difference between wages of Russian and foreign citizens amounts to 30 - 50%. And labor force payment costs in the prime cost of construction amount to 10%, so the firms save quite a bit of money this way.
Some employers also note big responsibility and diligence of foreign workers; however, it is not worth generalizing this criterion as a universal rule. In any case I know some other examples. Let’s return to the needs of the city in foreign labor force. They can be defined in several ways.
Firstly, it can be defined by the level of unemployment. There is much work, people are needed. Saint Petersburg is estimated to be among the three regions of the Russian Federation with a minimum unemployment rate. At present the unemployment rate is just 2,1%.
Secondly, the needs of the city can be established on the basis of quotas, which are annually determined by regional authorities for labor migrants. These quotas, in their turn, are calculated in agreement with the data, which are provided by enterprises. There are work permits, as well as entry invitation permits for foreign citizens. The difference between them reveals the number of migrants arriving from the countries where visa system exists. A company must provide a report on its needs for a year. In contemporary quickly changing conditions it is difficult to imagine a well co-ordinated mechanism. Firstly, accounts can turn out to be incorrect, one may need more employees for already planned projects; secondly, some force majeure circumstances may occur, which require urgent personnel infusions; thirdly, while developing itself, a company can reach completely new scales and areas of its activity, which may require new foreign workers. Besides that, not all companies can employ workers in their absence without conducting an interview. Even after the quota is established, there is still a need in human resources. As a result there are additional requests for quotas.
In 2008 the Federal service of migration approved a rate of 130 thousand (last year – 210 thousand) permits for foreign labor force use in Saint Petersburg, and the Government established a quota for invitations of foreigners with the purpose of labor activity at the rate of 17,5 thousand (last year – 16,4 thousand) people. Today quotas for some professions such as cooks, drivers, shop assistants and shiftmen have already all been given out in the city – in the middle of June the number of given permits amounted to 110 thousand.
The Governmental Committee on labor and population employment has already applied for additional quotas for this year –105 thousand work permits. This accounts for 80% of initially given permits. It turns out that the current practice of quota delivery doesn’t correspond to the needs of the city on the whole and those of the companies in particular. According to RF Government Decree №783, the amount of quotas can be updated once every six months. Federal authorities started to reconsider this provision and ponder over the possibility of introducing additional quotas three times a year – in April, June and October.
In case of approval by the federal authorities, the total amount of quotas for foreign citizens’ labor use in Saint Petersburg in 2008 will amount to 235 thousand (130 + 105), which will be just 25 thousand more than last year. For 2009 quotas have been established for a little more than 250 thousand permits. One may predict that quotas will be fully taken out, and that additional adjustment will be required.
A few reasons for quota reductions this year (the initial fixed amount of quotas turned out to be 80 thousand less than that of last year) have been identified: inability to provide places of residence for foreigners in the city, newcomers’ low qualifications, quota reduction as preventive measures throughout the country – last year not all foreign migrants became officially employed.

Available entry procedure and easy registration system

Last year registration systems for foreign citizens and individuals without citizenship in the RF territory were really significantly simplified. But legislative changes process was of multi vector character.
In January 2007 the Federal Law №109 «About migratory registration of foreign citizens and individuals without citizenship in the Russian Federation» came into effect (it was adopted on 18 July 2006). It considerably simplified the registration system for foreign citizens in their place residence. To be more precise, it fully abolished the registration institution itself, having replaced it with a records system: i.e. instead of a permit system, a system of notification was introduced.
Also on July 18, 2006 numerous amendments to the Federal Law №115 «About legal status of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation » (adopted 25 June 2002) were carried out, they simplified the procedure for foreign citizens’ registration by their employer.
Legal acts adopted in November 2006 were of another character, probably in the light of events in Condopoga in August-September 2006. On November 5, the Federal Law «About changes and introduction to the RF Code of administrative offences (in particular regarding the liability of reinforcement measures against the breaching of involvement procedures in the field of labor activity in the Russian Federation of foreign citizens and individuals without citizenship)» was issued, which significantly increased fines for lack of notification to migration and tax bodies about involvement in labor activity in the RF of a foreign citizen or an individual without citizenship. According to the new rules, a person who submitted to the Federal migratory service false personal data can pay a fine up to the amount of 5 thousand rubles, a host natural person can pay fines up to 4 thousand rubles, and an artificial person having employed an illegal immigrant – up to 800 thousand rubles. The activity of companies which provided illegal immigrants with workplaces can be suspended for three months.
In November 2006 the RF Government Decree №683 «About the establishment for 2007 of acceptable quotas of foreign workers used by economic actors carrying out their activity in the field of retail trade in the RF territory » was issued, according to which since 2007 there is full prohibition on foreign citizens’ involvement in retail trade markets, stalls and outdoor shops. In shops foreigners are prohibited to sell alcoholic beverages and pharmaceutical goods. In 2008 the list of prohibited fields of activity was enlarged to sport industry. Since April 1st the amount of foreigners working in the sport industry has decreased by 25%.
Is there more liberalization or toughening of migration legislation? Regarding only the factor of quantity – there is more toughening (fines, markets, quotas). But in fact the matter is not about toughening but about adjusting. We announce our demands, the necessary amount of workers come to us, they are registered in a simplified manner and just follow all legislative regulations, and thereby fines are of no importance for them.
Prices for a foreign citizen’s registration in Saint Petersburg are as follows. The cost of a work permit nowadays amounts to 4000 rubles, plus 1000 rubles for state duty (state tax) on work permit receipts, 2500 rubles for medical examination and 700 rubles for notary acts. So the total price is 8200 rubles. Temporary registrations for a year cost 3500 rubles. Work permits with temporary registration for a year cost 11 000 rubles. Is this expensive? It is not cheap, certainly. But it is worth the effort. In Russia, wages are higher than in most of country-suppliers of main labor migrants, and in Saint Petersburg all the more so. Our city is considered to be among the top three cities regarding the average level of wages in Russia.

Conflicts and crimes with the participation of foreign citizens

On average 0,8% of all registered crimes in the city are committed against foreigners. Last year 831 crimes were committed, and in the first four months of 2008 already 220 have been registered. However, the city authorities are optimistic regarding the current situation in this field, as the number of crimes against foreign citizens is decreasing. Evidently, actions of authorities on establishment of order in this field have gained the benefit, and quite large.
At the same time the number of crimes committed by foreign citizens is increasing. According to this rate Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad region occupy the second place throughout Russia after the capital region. In 2007 the number of crimes committed by foreigners in Saint Petersburg amounted to one thousand. What is this due to?
A majority of committed crimes involves citizens of Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. It turns out that the increase in crimes committed by foreigners is strictly dependent on main resources suppliers on the labor market of migrants. The vice-chairman of the Committee on external relations of the city, Sergey Markov, also attributes foreigners’ crimes to migration.
However, the increase in number of crimes for the last few years amounted to 40%, and the number of registered foreigners multiplied by 4. According to the head of the migration control department of the Administration of Federal migratory service of Russia in Saint Petersburg and Leningrad region, Elena Zabotina, this increase turns out to be even larger – it has been multiplied by 8. It seems the number of crimes committed by migrants has recently decreased significantly. But one should take into account another factor: illegal migrants. It won’t be possible to bring into proper correlation the increase in number of labor migrants in Saint Petersburg and the number of crimes after legal acts had come into effect last January. A significant number of illegal migrants decided to obtain legal status. Thus, one can only suppose real dynamics of crimes in relation to migrants, but crime should be fought with already on this stage.
Saint Petersburg is a very multiethnic city, both numerous labor migrants from abroad and foreign tourists come to us. At the same time city is very young concerning social structure. There is a large quantity of foreigners and youth, as a result there is a highly explosive mixture.
According to the director of Moscow’s bureau on human rights, Alexander Brod, in Saint Petersburg 16 people died and 19 people were victims of crimes committed on the base of racial intolerance this year. Judging by this rate, Saint Petersburg occupies the second place throughout Russia after the region of Moscow. Last year 19 crimes were committed on the base of interethnic hostility in Saint Petersburg.
90% of crimes committed on the base of interethnic hostility involve people aged between 14-18. According to Andrey Lavrenko, chief of the Investigative committee under the municipal prosecutor’s office, the main reason for the involvement of youngsters in extremist and nationalist groups is « the availability of information on nationalism », mainly through Internet.
One should only make a reservation – it is not a reason, but a condition, i.e. a factor favouring committing of these crimes, but by no means leading to them. The same holds true for the crimes of foreigners and public opinion poll, stated at the beginning of the article. A large number of foreign migrants, working illegally, can’t be on their own the reason for conflicts. This is a condition. The reason is hidden in another thing – we should search for origins of xenophobia.

Struggle against xenophobia in Saint Petersburg

It would be better to name this section «prevention of xenophobia» instead of struggle, as the word struggle implies the existence of a problem, while prevention denotes the preparatory measures to avoid it. The solution of this problem can be found in preventive measures. The discrepancy in terminology is obvious. However it’s not just discrepancy in terminology, prevention of xenophobia at present is an ideal state of social relations, which the city is only striving for, but hasn’t achieved yet.
Direct sources of xenophobia are in the heads if those who experience xenophobic moods and project them on foreign labor migrants. The existence of xenophobia is due to the following factors: lack of organization of young people’s leisure-time, lack of educational work in schools and preschool institutions, aggression and anger, which are accumulated in problem families and then spilled out over foreigners, and also confidence in the fact that someone must be responsible for unfavourable social state, and foreigners become this someone.
And conditions for xenophobic moods are big streams of foreigners, who don’t know language and social norms, crimes committed by them, drug trade, which is associated with separate ethnic groups. Some time ago they were saying that xenophobic Some time ago they were saying that xenophobic moods take place because migrants “steal’ workplaces from native citizens. But for Saint Petersburg, which has a minimal unemployment rate and a big demand for labor force, this statement doesn’t seem appropriate.
Effective programs on the prevention of xenophobia must be directed both on native citizens and on foreigners to affect both direct origins of racial hatred and factors leading to it.
Since 2006 the city has been implementing a program of harmonization for interethnic and intercultural relations, preventive measures for display of xenophobia, reinforcement of tolerance in Saint Petersburg for the period of 2006 - 2010, which was given a short name «Tolerance». In 2007 only within the framework of this program, activities to the amount of 54 million rubles were carried out. The budget for this year amounts to 78 million rubles and for the following year – 79,5 million; for 2010 – 81,5 million rubles.
The evaluation of this program shows extremely mixed opinions: some people express an opinion that the major part of means is spent not as intended and goes for standard cultural events which have always been numerous, and that it is not directed towards appropriate groups of population, which should be in focus, here one means foreign migrants. There is also a high appraisal of this program, outlining that within its framework more than 3000 activities have been carried out and that they have an extremely positive effect on the state of tolerant environment in the city.
It is too early to estimate whether the program is effective or not as it only started to work at the end of 2006, and for eradication of xenophobia it is required to change world-view which demands continuous work. The efficiency of Program can be traced just by one criterion which is the significant decrease in number of crimes committed on the basis of interethnic hostility.
In the Government of Saint Petersburg other initiatives are also being developed. Under the auspices of the Committee on City Property Management, the Saint Petersburg Home of nationalities has already been at work for a few years. Under the State institution «Contact», placed within the jurisdiction of the Committee on youth policies, there are two departments specializing in studies on youth subculture and on informal youth organizations. At present the Government is working on some ideas of integration of foreign immigrants into society by creating a centre for social and cultural adaptation of immigrants, a centre for assistance in employment of immigrants and dormitories.


There is also the third way to estimate the needs of the city in labor resources: that is to address personnel services. The Committee on population employment names the following professions in which staff is needed: auxiliary worker and car driver, cleaner of industrial and office premises and loader. City institutions estimate staff needs of our city to be around 800 thousand workers. How can we fill these posts if we don’t want foreign unskilled immigrants?

Option а. Migrants from Russia or from neighboring regions

Commutation between the Leningrad region and Saint Petersburg has a long history. For city-dwellers these are mainly purposes of recreation, for region residents it’s a labor activity. The involvement of labor resources from the region is included in the official migratory policy of the authorities. Workers from Russia have an advantage over foreign workers during employment. Lately, scales of involved labor resources from other regions of Russia have been enlarged. From the end of 2007 the Committee on population employment has been carrying out a project called «Work in Saint Petersburg», which is aimed at residents of other Russian regions. The information system concerning employment opportunities in the city is being restored.
Within the framework of the project, the Committee has already carried out a few guest fairs of vacancies in central regions of Russia. According to the Chairman of the Committee, Pavel Pankratov, staff involved in such fairs in Central Russia differs significantly from the most active visitors of Saint Petersburg. In Central Russia, the most interested people are men around the age of 20-35, which is very attractive for employers.
A problem arising for immigrants arriving from other regions of Russia is that of shortage of accommodation. It is necessary to establish a market of cheap accommodation rental and to build dormitories, where families of immigrants could settle. Unfortunately there is no unity of opinions on this issue among those who rule: some of them support the idea of creating separate towns for immigrants (we could call these ghettos) whilst others campaign for social responsibility of employers regarding accommodation building for their workers. Others also insist that there are a lot of dormitories under construction, and if this is not enough, current wage level makes it possible for workers to rent accommodation on their own. Sorry, but in this case one will have to keep his monthly expenses very tight.
As it was mentioned above, the cost of a temporary registration for foreign citizens in Saint Petersburg for one year amounts to 3500 rubles. At the same time for Russian citizens it amounts to 8500 rubles. We declare that we create privileged opportunities for migrants from other regions of Russia, but where is logic then?

Option b. Own forces

By own forces in this case we mean city personnel, i.e. it is necessary to encourage economically active inhabitants of Saint Petersburg, who currently don’t work. This group consists of people who for some reason have left their previous work place and are looking for a new one, those who cannot work for health reasons and those who want to start working for the first time, i.e. students.
We won’t touch upon the sick, but two other groups deserve more intensive work from employment services for them. We should return to the initiative of the Committee on population employment about the revival of the information system on employment assistance, and also develop schools and programs for advanced training and specialization changing in especially required professions. There is no need to develop programs on accommodation building and society integration for highly qualified personnel. Everything in this field is easier.
As for employment assistance for students, the Committee of population employment is convinced that qualified specialists will find a job without problems. But in an overwhelming majority of job vacancies, working experience is required. Where can a newly fledged specialist find working experience if he has just received his cherished certificate of a degree? When a student combines studies and work as an entry-level specialist, the employers ready to take into account large load of a young man and adjust his working schedule to his studies are rare. And students are the most easily trained type of staff, they are creative and active.

Option c. Qualified migrants

In the stated poll at the beginning of the article, those who were interrogated determined the reason for interethnic tension as being due to a large incoming flow of unskilled immigrants, but this doesn’t apply to qualified workers from abroad.
Though qualifications as a set of skills and abilities is determined – as it was said above – by the employer, by indicating in his request for the necessary quantity of personnel from abroad the qualities of a future worker.
The so-called social qualification of an immigrant is of no less importance. This implies his knowledge of society, culture and laws. As it was indicated above, such a centre for adaptation in Saint Petersburg is already being developed. Organization of such centre under embassies of Russia in the countries-suppliers of main labor resources would not be of less significance.
It is necessary to give certain encouragement bonuses to law-abiding workers who have already worked in the city. Authorities and employers are worried that experience, knowledge and earned financial means overflow to the state where an immigrant comes from. So it is necessary to encourage experienced immigrants and offer them more privileged conditions of work and accommodation.
It is extremely important to develop wide programs of teaching Russian as a foreign language to immigrants, and they should be carried out on a preparatory stage before their arrival in Russia. Often, daily misunderstandings become a reason for bloody conflicts. Another aspect is language as a guide to world-view of a separate society, in our case it’s Russian language of Russian society with Saint Petersburg shade.

There are a lot of alternatives regarding personnel; the choice is up to us.
There is an interesting remark on the site of the Committee on migratory control, stated at the beginning if this article as an epigraph. So, dwellers of Saint Petersburg, don’t call foreign workers «guest workers» for nothing, otherwise you accuse them of breaking the law. And being rewarded for one’s own work is the right of everyone who doesn’t break it.
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