Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Kyrgyz Builders Fear Compatriots' Return

As it becomes clear that Russia will no longer host as many migrant workers as before because of the economic downturn, reporter Almaz Turdubaev investigated how this would impact the job market inside Kyrgyzstan.
As he toured building sites in Bishkek, he was told by contractors and the workers they employ that the returning labour force was likely to look for jobs in this sector, in particular.

“When they come to us, we won’t have so many jobs available, either,” said Tynchtyk Moldoaliev, who runs a building firm.

Like its bigger counterparts in Russia and Kazakstan, the Kyrgyz construction sector has been hit as banks curtail lending both to project investors and to the firms that make the raw materials used in the trade. Another reason why things are particularly tight at the moment is that work falls away over the winter.

On the building sites, workers expressed fears of wage cuts and unemployment if large numbers of former expats start looking for jobs. Some were fearful that they would be pushed out by migrants with better skills and qualifications, while others expressed sympathy with those forced into returning.

One man said the government should start looking at the number of Chinese working as unskilled labour in the country, and put the interests of Kyrgyzstan nationals first.

More IWPR's Global Voices