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March 1996, Volume 3, Number 3

Czech Republic Faces Labor Shortages

A very low unemployment rate is slowing down the expansion of the free market system in the Czech Republic. Employees are constantly being wooed away to higher-paying jobs, leading to high job turnover.

There are currently about 27,000 Ukrainians illegally employed in the Czech Republic, Ukrainians rank second behind Slovaks. Czech businesses have said that once the Czech Republic completes its restructuring, it will turn to the Ukraine for guest workers.

The Czech Republic and the Ukraine already have a guest worker agreement. In addition to a 12-month pass, the Czech government will introduce three- and six-month permits for seasonal workers, and project-specific permits for employees of Ukrainian firms contracted for jobs in the Czech Republic.

The Czech Republic is considering a change in its citizenship law to remove the requirement that applicants for naturalization have a clean criminal record for five years.

The Council of Europe and Helsinki Commission criticized Czech citizenship law on February 21 for causing thousands of residents who previously held Czechoslovak citizenship to become "aliens." Slovakians are considered foreigners in the new Czech Republic, and many Slovak Romanies living in the Czech Republic are unable to acquire Czech citizenship because they have criminal records.

Many of the Slovakians were labeled criminals by the Czech Republic because they had a police file--though the Czech government admits that a police file did not mean a person collaborated with the secret police. The citizenship law bans from public office everyone registered in the secret police files, regardless of whether they worked for or cooperated with the secret police.

An opinion poll by the state-funded Institute for Public Opinion Research of 1,022 Czechs found that about one-third do not like other races, particularly Gypsies, Germans, and Vietnamese. More than one quarter of the respondents thought that there should be stricter laws on foreigners visiting and conducting business in the Czech Republic.

"Citizenship Law Critics Wrongly Informed," CTK National News Wire, February 21, 1996. "Czechs to react to CE's Citizenship law report by end of month," CTK National News Wire, February 22, 1996. "Survey of Czech Press," CTK National News Wire, February 23, 1996. "Almost a third of Czechs dislike other races-poll," Reuters, February 21, 1996. "Czech Businesses Not Opposed to Ukrainian Inflow," CTK Nationals News Agency, February 13, 1996. "Skinheads Attack Foreign Students, Arabs in Bar, Homeless People," CTK News Agency, January 10, 1996. "Olomouc Police Patrols Reinforced to Protect Foreign Students," Czech News Agency, January 9, 1996. "High Employment Rate Seen As An Impediment to Building Free Market," Prague Post, January 10, 1996.