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Commentary: Romani unemployment endangers the Czech economy

13.10.2013 21:56, (ROMEA)
Miroslav Kováč giving a speech as part of a commemorative ceremony at Lety by Písek. Photo: František Kostlán
Miroslav Kováč giving a speech as part of a commemorative ceremony at Lety by Písek. Photo: František Kostlán

According to estimates by the Czech Labor Office, the number of unemployed Romani people has significantly grown in recent years. While official statistics are not kept about the ethnicity of the unemployed, the Labor Office has produced its estimate for the Office of the Government to use as part of its reporting on how it is fulfilling its obligations as part of the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015. 

The Decade is a political obligation of 12 states that offers a unique opportunity to address the situation of Romani people regionally. One of its aims has been to annually increase, by 10 %, the number of Romani people graduating from high school or, through re-qualification, the number who are guaranteed a job, and evidence of this would be a shortening in the average time that Romani people are enrolled with Labor Office registries as unemployed.

In 2011, community service work, re-qualification, and other employment-boosting measures were taken advantage of by 18 % of the 38 500 Romani job seekers enrolled with the Labor Office. Half of them received an individual employment plan, community service work was performed by 2 400 Romani people, and 1 730 Romani people became re-qualified.  

In 2012, community service work was performed by only 1 640 Romani people and only 643 Romani people became re-qualified. However, the number of Romani job seekers compared to 2011 had increased, according to this report, by 9 400 for a total of 47 900 people out of work.

This Romani jobless number represents roughly 8.8 % of the overall number of people enrolled as unemployed, which as of December 2012 totaled 545 311. According to various estimates, a total of approximately 250 000 Romani people live in the Czech Republic.

This means that not quite 20 % of the Romani population in the Czech Republic is enrolled with the Labor Office as unemployed (not 90 %, as antigypsyists love to claim). Naturally, this number includes so-called at-risk groups on the labor market, e.g., low-skilled laborers, people over 50, recent graduates, women after maternity leave, and primarily anyone who is a graduate of the "practical" or "specialized" (previously "special") schools.

In comparison, the number of unemployed people from the majority society equals only 5 % of the majority population. Romani people belong among the most at-risk groups on the labor market because they face employers' unwillingness to hire them and mostly live in regions with the highest unemployment rates, where there are 50 job-seekers per job opportunity, so the ratio of non-Romani to Romani job-seekers is completely logical given the circumstances.

The Czech Republic as a whole continues to benefit from the fact that it has the fifth-lowest employment rate in the EU. When I reflect on the reasons as to why the number of unemployed Romani people is rising here year-on-year despite the use of various employment support measures, I realize that this curve has been on the rise since 2008.     

The economic crisis bears a certain share of the blame for this fateful state of affairs, but during the past two years we have been in economic stabilization or stagnation, and the impact of the crisis on the Czech economy has not been as drastic as we anticipated. A certain proportion of blame can also be attributed to graduates who have not found work, but that happens every year, and it would have to be a very large graduating class indeed to so significantly increase the number of unemployed Roma (i.e, by as much as 1/4).

After considering these and other circumstances, in the end I have come to an unequivocal conclusion. The mainstream media are to blame, first and foremost, for increased Romani unemployment, because they have been favoring the reporting of anti-Romani half-truths and hoaxes as if they were verified information.

Populist pseudo-politicians such as Chaloupka, Čunek, Doubrava, Krejči, Lebeda, Okamura, Pakosta, Řápková and others have significantly abetted the media through their own anti-Romani statements, as have the people around former President Klaus and, most of all, the brownshirts from the DSSS who are serving these politicians. In the end, isn't it the case that they are all seeking to expand their voter base by making such statements?

The brownshirts disguised inside the other political parties are afraid they would be politically discredited if they officially joined the DSSS and presented their lies in their true colors, more openly and without dissimulation. They would lose rational voters, lucrative incomes, and a certain weight in society, because reasonable people would never elect them.  

Don't politicians have access to information?

If politicians enjoy access to the facts, then why do they veer in the direction of lies and misleading the public by spreading generalized half-truths about one group in the population when they know society's problems cannot be resolved easily? Aren't these cacklers the same politicians who have been sitting behind the steering wheel all along?  

Why do they feed on the lies presented by the Nazis from the DSSS instead of correcting them? Why should Romani families suffer in poverty and have to apply for welfare just to maintain some kind of income?

It is clear to me that these politicians are unaware of what the outcome of their dirty pseudo-politics, their parasatism on this wave of intolerance, actually is for Romani people. The Labor Office has now evaluated the efforts of their work for the year 2012, summa summarum, as resulting in 9 400 more Romani people without jobs.

Even though in recent years the number of educated Romani people has risen in the Czech Republic, the number of unemployed Roma registering with the Labor Office has not declined - on the contrary, it has risen! Racists, by publicly spreading half-truths and lies, have buttressed antigypsyism, and the antigypsyists have brought about this legal, modern form of racism ("I'm not a racist, but...") which is far more dangerous than the form that extirpated millions of people.  

Antigypsyism has become modern, and antigypsyists don't hire Roma. Today it's antigyspysim, but what will it be tomorrow?

Unfortunately, up to now, thanks to the influence of this growing antigypsyism, Romani people have been left with no other option than to put the Czech economy at risk by drawing welfare. Then they get to wait for the neo-Nazis who caused their poverty to attack them in their own homes.

Miroslav Kováč, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Nezaměstnanost, Roma, Zaměstnanost, Zaměstnávání, Anticiganismus, DSSS, informování o Romech, Klaus, nepokoje, nesnášenlivost, Romové, situace ve společnosti, Šíření nenávisti a nesnášenlivosti, Vzdělávání, Commentary, Czech republic, Education, Extremism, Neo-Nazism, Populism, Racism



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