Central Estonian farmers not happy foreign labor period shortened ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Dairy cows.
Dairy cows. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

While milk producers in Central Estonia acknowledge the Estonian government for deciding to allow foreign labor, they are not satisfied with the fact that the period of time for which foreign labor will be permitted to work in the country will be reduced from the current nine months to just six.

There are 20 Ukrainians currently working on OÜ Estonia farms and fields. Ljudmila is working as a milker at Kõrtsi Farm in Türi Municipality for the fourth year already, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

"I'm satisfied thus far," said Ljudmila, who is satisfied overall with the wages as well. "It could be higher, but I am satisfied with what it is."

Estonia director Ain Aasa said that the government's Monday decision will certainly provide relief to the labor shortage, and that they will manage with the enforcing of a 14-day self-isolation period as well.

"It will surely cause problems, but it can be managed," Aasa said, noting that it will be possible to fulfill quarantine-related obligations required of employers.

"We will start thinking about this now, about how to do this, but I believe that it's possible," he added.

Businesses belonging to the OÜ Vaklak group employ around a dozen foreigners. Vaklak would be happy to hire local labor exclusively, but according to director Margus Muld, Estonians don't want to do hard manual labor in cool spaces that smell of manure anymore.

But foreign labor isn't hired simply for fun either; they involve little-discussed problems as well.

"Speaking in Russian is already an issue in barns in many places, which working people from third countries generally do," Muld said. "The entire issue of attitude and understanding on top of that, which is dependent on cultural differences. We are welcoming Estonians with open arms."

According to Muld, gross average monthly wages equal approximately €1,200, and local, Estonian labor tends to walk away from the job despite this.

Sargvere Agricultural Cooperative director Toomas Uusmaa said that the only thing that seriously bothers agricultural firm directors about the government's recent decision is the reduction in the length of the permitted work period for foreign labor.

"These aren't all really general laborers being hired from there; they all need to be trained," Uusmaa said. "That they can now only work for six months instead of nine months... They will barely finish learning the job before they already have to wave goodbye, pack their bags and go."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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