Life without migrants, or when Russians will rise from their beloved stove
Analytics

Life without migrants, or when Russians will rise from their beloved stove

21 December 2020, 10:19Photo: payom.net
One of the consequences of the sad covid reality in Russia is the rapid disappearance of the labor force. Once, if not horror, then great suspicion, labor migrants, mainly from Central Asia, have become a real pain for business and the authorities. And today, the pain for many employers is their absence.

Ivan Petrovsky

Already 50 regions of the country have declared a shortage of workers at construction sites, they are short of 190 thousand workers. In total, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Russia, instead of the traditional 9-11 million migrants, now there are 6.3 million people. It seems bad to almost everyone. Businessmen are crying with burning tears without labor, Sergey Sobyanin worries that there will be no one to sweep the streets because of the outflow of 40% of migrants, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin is afraid that the national project on housing construction will be disrupted without visitors employed on construction sites...

And the Russian peasant is still not eager to jump off the stove and rush to work instead of foreign citizens who have vacated their vacancies.

According to hh.ru, only 3% of applicants are ready to go to engage in hard physical labor at construction sites and in agriculture. The Ministry of Construction even submitted to the government a bill on simplified entry of migrants. To enter Russia legally, it will be enough just to buy a patent.

But the rest of the concerns - migration registration, ensuring sanitary and epidemiological control, conducting tests for covid, formalizing labor relations should be taken over by the receiving party ... In general, businessmen continue to cry.

Like a dog in the manger

To find out how things really are in business, we turned directly to entrepreneurs. But many, for obvious reasons, do not want to advertise the hiring of migrants - not all can be formalized as expected. But off the record they say that now there is an acute shortage of labor, and local residents do not seek to come even for an increased salary - they often have to work in uncomfortable conditions and a lot. This is what the few who have agreed to speak openly about the current situation are saying. Representatives of a company that manufactures sanitary modules tell:

"Despite the fact that in Modulbau there are open vacancies for workers in a factory with improved working conditions in a warm, heated room, in contrast to work carried out on construction sites, it is extremely difficult to find plumbers, electricians, tilers, drywall workers, etc. Most Russian citizens of these professions already have jobs and hold on to them, and there are practically no other applicants. Therefore, even a significant increase in salary rates is ineffective. There are those who want to work from other areas, but there are few ready-made specialists, and retraining takes some time, these are costs".

Our citizens are extremely immobile in terms of labor and value their status very much. Many will live from hand to mouth, on the money of relatives and loans in microfinance organizations (by the end of the year, the loan portfolio of MFOs can grow by 10% -15% and reach 243.8 billion rubles), but they will never go to low-profile jobs. Moreover, a migrant will have to work a lot: on average, 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, receiving an average of 43 thousand rubles for this. An hour of work of a migrant costs 1.5 times less than an hour of work of a local resident.

It is inexplicable, but true: at the same time, Russians are afraid of migrants, believing that they are taking away their jobs. For example, a 2014 study by the Center for Migration Research, an NGO, showed that 39% of Muscovites are confident that migrants are pushing local residents out of the labor market. And the 2019 report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) generally confirms that, in principle, nothing has changed over the past years. In general, the fear of losing a job due to competition with migrants is typical for many countries, but especially strong in those countries where the population has low incomes.

You can be afraid of such competition as much as you want, but migrants as a labor force are simply necessary for the state, says political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin:

"No country in the world can achieve economic growth without expanding the labor market. The territories of accelerated economic growth have always been places that attracted migrants to themselves. Let us recall the USSR, when people from other cities and republics were invited to work in Moscow for the prospect of obtaining a Moscow residence permit".

The President of the Federation of Migrants of Russia Vadim Kozhenov also notes the acute problem of a combination of a shortage of workers and the unwillingness of local residents to get a job offered:

"The demand for workers is colossal, 10 thousand vacancies can be filled in a week. There was a moment that even the employees of the Multifunctional Migration Center in Sakharovo called all the migrants who had left their phones in the call center over the past two years, inviting them to work. Demand is observed in absolutely all areas. For example, a waste processing and sorting plant is opening in Rostov. Hundreds of people are needed there, but local residents do not go, despite the quite decent earnings - from 1,500 to 2,000 rubles per shift".

Demographic question: will migrants exterminate us or help us survive?

But not by work alone. In addition to the world of work, serious problems with demography are on the agenda. What do we see now, when the borders are closed and there is no influx of migrants? Nothing good. The resident population of the Russian Federation as of August 1 was 146.5 million people, which is 251.1 thousand people less than a year ago. And again, we must say "thanks" to the migrants who managed to enter the country: without them, the losses would have amounted to 316.3 thousand people. Such is the natural population decline, and it has grown by 30% compared to 2019. This is roughly the same as the population of Kurgan, Cherepovets or Yakutsk. Children do not give birth, old people die. The prospects are not bright.

It was in Japan that artificial intelligence was able to influence the birth rate, which helps single people to pick up couples, while in Russia there is no one to give birth and there is no reason. And this is for a long time. According to the Ministry of Labor's forecast, the number of women capable of giving birth will reach a minimum by 2035. Like it or not, there is no way to support the country's population without migrants. After all, after reading the frightening forecasts, no one will rush to make children.

According to Natalia Zubarevich, the Chief Research Fellow of the Institute for Social Policy of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, there is no chance to correct the demography without migrants:

"In our country, almost until 2030, that is, for more than 10 years, depopulation will continue due to natural decline. That is, the death rate will be greater than the birth rate. The only way to change something in the dynamics of the population is to increase the migration inflow".

However, independent expert-demographer Aleksey Raksha notes that migrants alone are not enough to save demography.

"I am against the assertion that migrants are the basis for maintaining the population. Migrants undoubtedly help maintain the population and not age too much, but only if the birth rate is not too low. Otherwise, even in a rich country with a high level of economy, a large volume of migration will cause a surge of outrage and protests. Almost always, the local population is dissatisfied with the large flow of migrants, and this is observed even in the country created by migrants - the United States".

It's bad without migrants, but scary with them

Demography is a national problem. Ordinary citizens are more concerned with the fact that migrants can simply oust the local residents, that the Russian (in the broad sense of the word) population in Russia will not remain at all. In 2011, demographers have scared by the fact that by 2050, every third inhabitant of Russia will be a migrant, and in 2019, sociologists promised that by the 2050-2060 biennium Russian base will yield in size to other nationalities, mainly south. So, the most favorable soil has been created for prejudice against visitors from neighboring countries.

Many Russians are also worried about their safety. Labor migrants in the eyes of the majority are potential criminals. The news constantly comes across criminal chronicles with the participation of visitors from the countries of Central Asia. But few people think about how many crimes are committed by citizens of the Russian Federation. (Russia is by no means a quiet, peaceful country, we have more than 13 times more murders per capita per year than in Germany. Novye Izvestia has already written about this).

According to the Prosecutor General's Office, in 2019, only 3.5% of crimes were committed by stateless persons of the Russian Federation. An absolute trifle in the general mass of crimes. Moreover, 2/3 of such crimes are the theft of food with clothes in supermarkets and problems with migration registration. The chances of being seriously hurt by a man of 30-49 years old with primary or secondary vocational education, without a job, but with a Russian passport, is much higher than from a Tajik or Kyrgyz. Cases like the detention of a woman from Uzbekistan with the head of a child cut off are terrible exceptions that do not characterize the millions of migrants living in Russia. Petersburg professor-murderer and dismemberment of a young student Oleg Sokolov, for example, is the most eaten indigenous inhabitant of the northern capital.

Getting along together is an utopia?

So what to do when it is bad even without migrants and it is scary with them? Is it possible to organize their stay in Russia in such a way as to extract benefits on a national scale and to provide comfort to ordinary Russians? Or is it not a solvable problem, and you still have to sacrifice something?

Migrants often live apart from their communities, they do not always speak Russian, and it is difficult to do business with them - according to the Gaidar Institute and RANEPA, 64% of labor migrants remain in the shadow sector. In general, they look suspicious ... The Levada Center has noticed an increase in xenophobic sentiments in the last couple of years: last year already 23% of Russians were worried about the problem of the influx of visitors and the aggravation of interethnic sentiments. Before the record in 2013, when 37% of Russians were against migrants, things have not yet reached, but we are going there.

- There are very strongly expressed xenophobic sentiments in our society. After all, our main inflow is not from Western Europe, but from the countries of Central Asia. And accordingly, the Russian population is not very happy with this. More precisely, he wants the courtyard to be cleaned, so that food in hypermarkets is served on time, but so that the faces of migrants do not flash on the streets. The country needs a young migration, we are a very old country. But this young migration runs up against the political barrier of xenophobia of the Russian population, emphasizes Natalya Zubarevich.

The language issue has been on the agenda for a long time: the better a migrant speaks Russian, the more he looks like a local resident, and the less irritation he causes. But is there any sense in how the requirements for the Russian language exam are now organized to obtain a work permit? As Vadim Kozhenov notes, such a system does not work, although a lot of money circulates in it:

"To work on a patent, it is necessary to cancel exams in the Russian language - this is a senseless formality. If, for example, a person wants a status: a residence permit, citizenship, then the exam is needed, but if you just knead the cement - why? Today everything is arranged in such a way that the conditional LLC "Horns and Hooves" is taken, which concludes an agreement with the same small universities, they take these exams without looking, and if something happens, the company simply closes, opening a day later under a new name. The profit is huge, an average of 1.2 million certificates are issued per year, one costs five thousand rubles. But there are also markups for registration and so on, as a result, 6 billion rubles a year comes out!"

On the other hand, the dislike and fears of Russians towards newcomers are mutual: the fear of migrants themselves and the tension in society are feeding, who would doubt it, law enforcement agencies. 43% of migrants are afraid of the police. According to experts, the key mistake in this case was the liquidation of the Federal Migration Service and the transfer of powers to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Alexey Raksha argues that it is wrong to give migration to the Ministry of Internal Affairs:

"The Ministry of Internal Affairs is a structure that is geared towards the use of force: “do not let go”, “punish”, “intimidate” and so on. The system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs today, by and large, is aimed at creating obstacles for the citizens of Russia so that they heroically overcome them, and this system is not interested in either the number or the quality of migrants in general. The more migrants there are, the more work is done to the bodies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in everyday language. We need separate migration services, migration policy, language policy, cultural development".

Vadim Kozhenov is more loyal to the activities of law enforcement agencies, noting the deep-seated everyday reasons for the poor-quality work of the Ministry of Internal Affairs:

"It all depends on the individual. In Moscow, for example, regional subordination, it turns out that the head of the OVM reports directly to the head of the OVM, but at the same time, through OVM, he also receives assignments and checks from the Migration Department of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for the city of Moscow. As a result, it "arrives" both from some and from others, and all this is "pleasure" for a salary comparable to the salary of a district police officer. Therefore, if a particular head of the OVM has a human attitude towards migrants, then he does his job well and carefully. We try to reward these police officers every year. But if not, then nothing can be done about it. For such a salary, he will simply quit tomorrow, and with whom will the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs close this position?"

We made an official request to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and decided to find out in the department itself what difficulties they have to face, maybe they really have problems with financing this area, training personnel, legislative restrictions? .. But in response, representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, citing an insufficient number of time to prepare a response, they only sent a link to the speech of the Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev in the Federation Council on the topic of labor migrants... in December 2016.

But Vyacheslav Postavnin, the former deputy director of the FMS of Russia, agreed to talk about the existing problems and contradictions in the sphere of the current migration policy:

- In the main department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on migration there are leaders, there are specialists who are devoted to their work, who are well versed in it. But there are territorial departments where there is a lot of turnover. There is a completely different attitude, typically police: a migrant is a potential criminal for them.

(a long interview with V. Postavnin about the problems in the field of migration policy, which are usually not accepted to be voiced, can be read HERE)

As you can see, there are problems from all sides. People are afraid and do not want to accept migrants, and intimidated migrants, deprived of all rights and despised by everyone, unite in communities. If something goes wrong, a social conflict flares up.

It is not easy to attract qualified, educated, well-skilled foreigners who could bring more benefits to the country. Alexey Raksha notes that the competition for migrants is now too high all over the world:

"Today, living and working conditions are better, for example, in Romania than in Russia, and this is a fact. Our climate is cold, there is not much sun, and only migrants from the former republics of the USSR come to us. Roughly speaking, only those who have nowhere else to go come to us. China has a low birth rate and an acute labor shortage, so people in the near future will better go to China than to Russia".

No matter how many would like to live in an ideal world where everyone is well-fed, healthy and rich, this is a utopia. It is also impossible to isolate oneself from the outside world and live by one's own gradually dying out community. After all, a state is not only a territory, but, above all, people. No people - no state. And we are like a dog in the manger: we are afraid that the job will be taken away, but we do not want to work in "non-prestigious" jobs, we are lazy to multiply, but at the same time we are afraid that we will be squeezed here too. “Yes, newcomers are annoying in many ways - and in all countries of the world guest workers are irritants, but this negative is the payment for economic growth”, - sums up Dmitry Oreshkin.

So either everyone goes to work on a construction site and give birth, or we accept migrants with open arms and resign ourselves to the fact that children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will increasingly have almond-shaped eyes.

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