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Czech Unions Against Visa-Free Travel for Ukraine, Claim It Threatens Job Market

© Sputnik / Pavel Palamarchuk / Go to the mediabankParticipants of a rally held by supporters of Ukraine's EU integration. File photo
Participants of a rally held by supporters of Ukraine's EU integration. File photo - Sputnik International
While Czech government officials apparently support implementing a visa-free regime between the EU and Ukraine, the country’s labor unions dread the prospects of economic migration crashing the country’s job market.

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As EU officials are considering whether or not to implement a visa-free arrangement with Ukraine, the Czech leadership appears to be willing to support this measure despite the lack of enthusiasm exhibited by the nation’s workers.

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek confirmed in April that Prague supports the right to move freely across Europe for Ukrainians.

However, Leo Luzar, Czech MP and member of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, told Sputnik that labor unions in the country do not share the government’s sentiments regarding the prospects of economic migration from Ukraine, which could be triggered by the visa-free regime.
He pointed out that salaries in Czech Republic are already low, and that the visa-free deal would only exacerbate the problem.

"Our already low wages will keep shrinking because Ukrainian ‘slaves’ are a perfect instrument for blackmailing local workers. And our businessmen and HR agencies bought into it. They force these migrant laborers to work for 12-16 hours a day for a pittance that they also have to split with their employers and possibly even with Ukrainian mafia; and to share tiny dorm rooms with several other people. Obviously, a Czech worker who has a family to feed and taxes to pay cannot compete with them," Luzar explained.

He also pointed out that the parties involved in negotiations about this visa-free regime apparently forgot about the economic migration aspect of it, not to mention the fact that Ukraine was first supposed to deal with rampant corruption within the country and to curtail the influence of Ukrainian oligarchs over their government.

"They say that this agreement won’t provide Ukrainians with the right to seek employment in EU countries. However, due to previous experience we all know how these things really work. Is it really in the Czech Republic’s best interests to support this measure? Or are we going to use Poroshenko’s Ukraine to blackmail ourselves the same way as with the Erdogan’s Turkey," Luzar wondered.

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