Other than discrimination, tender politics is also an obstacle for Roma looking for work

By • on August 24, 2012

Until recently, Roma from Eastern Slovakia used to find work by going to any company in Slovakia and the Czech Republic and asking to be hired as part of a group. Nowadays the situation is more complicated as both state and private companies need to announce a tender for every larger contract. However, companies that win the tender usually have their own employees. Therefore there is often no place on the work market for the unemployed Roma looking for work.

A group of ten Romani men from Vranov nad Topľou in Eastern Slovakia prove this fact. They attempted to look for work in some Czech woods, as they had enough experience in the forestry industry, which helped them earn a living in the past. The men asked me for help. So, we contacted the head office of a certain Czech woodland. I stated in my email that it is a group of Romani men who are familiar with planting, cutting trees and so on, and also, that they coincidentally have many years of experience in the Czech Republic. I added that they can commute from their accommodation point as they have their own cars, and we waited two days for a reply.

An email informed us that the woods have their own employees, that companies compete for forestry work in tenders and that it is not possible any other way. The answer made Romani men sad even though the head of the woods advised us to contact other woodlands. But he also added that it might be the same case, of work assigned by tender.

Tenders are important in that they help the transparency and have, at least in theory, an anti-corruption effect. Of course, let’s not forget the economics, namely that saving finances is the main priority. But for many unaffiliated workers this is very limiting, as their chances to get work decrease, no need to mention how much in the case of Roma.

One man from the abovementioned group of Romani men decided not to give up. He will ask the head of the woods which company won the tender so he can contact it and ask for a job. Maybe the company itself could employ the whole group and they might get work after all.

To conclude, these days work can be obtained only if you are already an employee of a certain company that gets work through the tender. It functions like that in Slovakia, in the Czech Republic and after all everywhere inEurope, because our times require it. It is no secret that companies try to cover as much work with as few employees as possible in order to cut expenses. The days when good work was available to individuals are history. The work market is crowded with companies that are unavailable. What to do then with the unemployed that are left behind?

Bigger and stronger corporations have built a monopoly for winning public contracts. They have the most economical solutions with a minimum of employees. Within some tenders, “Roma” companies lose their position as they cannot compete with bigger concerns. A Roma businessman and his external company lost their multiyear cooperation with the Škoda automotive factory in the Czech town of Mladá Boleslav. The businessman had tens of employees and despite the long cooperation he did not succeed in joining a tender. His company is still active but barely alive. Many unemployed Roma from Slovakia and the Czech Republic used to turn to him when looking for work, but this option is forever lost.


Photo: Vranov nad Topľou, Slovakia. Courtesy Wikimedia user: Przykuta