New anti-minority language legislation is prepared in Latvia.
Latvian news portal Delfi.lv reported earlier this week, that new bulk of anti-minority legislation (amendment in Labour legislation) is prepared by Latvian government. Level of proficiency in Latvian will be added into work contracts as special feature. Businessmen will be obliged to create list of working positions with level of proficiency in Latvian necessary to fill them (this is initially the old norm articulated in Government regulations). This norm will be enforced from 1st June 2009 and will be applied to both contracts signed after the date, as well as before the date (these contracts will be aligned with new regulations till 1st December 2009). This is done to comply with Criminal code, that forsees fines for businessmen, who give work to people not good enough in Latvian. Minister of Justice Gaidis (pronounced: Guy-dees) Berzinsh from nationalist For Fatherland and Freedom/National Independence Movement (TB/LNNK), the chief person behind the legislation, stressed to Russian version of Delfi portal, that: "Unfortunately, today the situation with using state language is unsatisfactory. It's one of the means to make the situation better."
The summary of the bill says: "The above mentioned amendment will give opportunity to implement one of the aims of State language law—to guarantee right to use Latvian language freely in any sphere of life". The bill is seen by its' authors as ''additional" to recently amended list of professions with levels of proficiency in Latvian for each position. One can see from the summary, that it's "business as usual": no consultations with organizations of civil society and social partners, no consultations with experts, no public information campaign. Thus, none can be puzzled, that as seen from the Justice ministry--"the bill does not limit rights of individual".
The bill is to be accepted by the government and the parliament.
Latvian language is official language of the country, as stipulated by the Constitution. Latvian language policy is futher articulated in the State language law and Regulations issued by the government. There exists list of professions with respective level of language proficiency required to fill the position. This is done to protect national language and ensure its’ functioning. Until 2000 all persons, who graduated non-Latvian schools were obliged to get language proficiency certificate of one of three degrees. They are the main aim of language policies of Latvian authorities. Having language ceritificate without completing high-school education in Latvian means being possible victim of state sponsored language "check". While protection of state language is internationally accepted goal, present Latvian language policy denies both changes in minority language attitudes and needs of labour market. Dissenting voices of professionals from organizations, connected to businessmen circles, who face labor force shortage and urge to relax language regulations, are often met with distrust and disgust by Latvian nationalists.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.