Economics, Welfare ministers: guest worker entry could be simplified in Latvia

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The rules for the entry of third-country workers could be simplified in Latvia, Welfare Minister Evika Siliņa (New Unity) and Economics Minister Ilze Indriksone (National Alliance) said in an interview on the Latvian Television programme “Today's Question” on April 19. The politicians, however, have a different view of specific changes.

In Latvia, workforce is currently lacking and needs to be addressed in all possible ways, said Indriksone, indicating that there are different views on what workforce Latvia wants to bring in.

Siliņa also confirmed that the political forces had discussed this issue when forming the government. Completely opening the borders is not currently offered, but the coalition wants a number of improvements to the Immigration Law. For example, currently, third-country migrant workers can only get a job permit with one employer, while other European countries have the possibility of obtaining a national job permit as a whole.

“There are small things that we can improve to make people want to travel to Latvia at all,” added Siliņa.

Indriksone, on the other hand, said that in Latvia, guest workers with higher education and qualifications are already able to change employers and receive a 3-month unemployment benefit. She added that the system for less skilled workforce could be simplified so that employers can start employing these people more quickly. This could apply to seasonal jobs and construction, Indriksone said.

Siliņa said Latvia "needs people who will shape the labour market" and also improve the demographic situation by staying here for life.

"I think we have to be a little more open, not so fearful. Of course, we do not want to open up labour markets to undesirable persons," the Minister said, adding that she meant Russians and Belarusians.

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