The Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) on Saturday condemned the plan on to increase the official immigration quota or abolish it altogether. This was running counter to Estonia's national interests and misleading the public.
In a statement adopted by the party’s extended leadership on Saturday, EKRE said that the extensive set of exceptions that come with the present quota needed to be narrowed down, and that the government needed to start enforcing with the quota.
The party finds the claim misleading that without easing the quota foreign workers couldn’t be brought to Estonia, as it already didn’t apply to people from European Union member states, the United States, Japan, Norway, and Switzerland.
“The argument that because of the low quota it isn’t possible to bring foreign IT specialists to Estonia does not hold water, because specialists in the field of IT are exempted from the quota,” the statement said. If Estonian employers were unable to find suitable workers in countries and states ranging from Sweden to Bulgaria and from Latvia to California, there was no reason to believe that they would be able to find them elsewhere.
According to EKRE there is no doubt that behind the pressure to lift the quota is the employers’ wish to bring in substantially lower-paid workers from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus and to replace Estonian and EU member state citizens with them to save money.
Lifting the quota would trigger a number of negative consequences. “The exodus of Estonians from their native country as a result of wage poverty would continue, because the wage pressure would be relieved by a workforce arriving from third countries. Unemployment among locals would increase, as low-paid strangers would be hired instead. In many fields of the economy—first and foremost in services, construction, medicine—the pressure on the Estonian language would increase, and the danger would arise of Estonians no longer being able to manage their daily business in the official language,” the party’s statement read.
“The abolition of the immigration quota would aggravate all existing problems of the labor market and society, except for the wage pressure on employers. At the same time, it would not solve any societal problem, but create new ones instead.”
The party also quoted a public opinion survey indicating that 72 percent of Estonians considered increasing the immigration quota to be unnecessary, and 63 percent believe that Estonia doesn’t need workers from outside the EU.
According to EKRE, the efforts to find a solution to the current labor shortage should focus on the Estonians that left the country to live and work abroad, and on retraining those who are underpaid in their present jobs as well as developing various technologies and improving the recruitment capability of employers.
Editor: Dario Cavegn
Source: BNS, ERR