While progress has been made in securing rights for Tajik nationals working in Russia, more still needs to be done, according to an expert interviewed by IWPR.
Muzaffar Zaripov who heads of the Migration and Development NGO and is a consultant for the International Organisation for Migration, would like to see better documentation and tracking of people leaving the country, and facilities to teach them Russian and a basic grasp of labour law. He told IWPR that such measures were not only much-needed but wholly justifiable given the substantial funds that workers abroad sent home to Tajikistan. (See Tajik Migrants Ill-Prepared for Work in Russia for more on these issues.)
As part of a wider package of bilateral deals, Moscow has given new arrivals the right to wait two weeks before registering with the authorities and to sign three-year labour contracts, a significant improvement on previous regulations.
To control the influx of labour, Russia now sets quotas for each country, but Zaripov said these were shrinking, and this, plus the high cost of labour permits, was likely to drive many into working illegally.
“Only about one-third of Tajik labour migrants are able to find a legal job and place of residence. All the rest will be illegals,” he said. “We and Russia urgently need to think through how we’re going to make them legal, too.”
Looking into the future, Zaripov said massive seasonal labour migration would continue until Tajikistan had a functioning economy that could keep its population in employment. That, he said, would only happen when there was a guaranteed supply of electricity to keep the wheels of industry turning.
Poor in oil and gas resources, Tajikistan has suffered from energy shortages for years, but there are plans to complete major hydroelectric schemes that many could solve the crisis at a stroke.
Shahodat Saibnazarova is IWPR Radio Editor in Tajikistan.
This audio programme went out in Russian on national radio stations in Tajikistan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.