On July 3, 2011 the Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial organised a seminar within the project “Legal help and protection of national minorities in the North-Western region of Russia” (supported by SIDA). Work migrants and foreigners living in St Petersburg participated in the seminar.
The participants of the seminar discussed their problems, mostly violations of labour rights of foreign citizens. The experts of the ADC Memorial explained the legal system maintaining work and residence on the territory of Russia, including the recent changes in the law.
The activities of so called “mediator companies” caused many discussions. The migrants still have to ask themselves if they will use the help of such companies in registration and obtaining work permit. For many migrants working 12-14 hours per day these companies are the only hope to receive legal documents. Even large chain companies use the services of such companies in order to avoid social responsibilities for foreign workers. Large Russian companies and state agencies also hire workers without registration, work permit with the help of such mediators. Another discussion was devoted to the rules of obtaining work permits and ways to protect your rights from the activities of some employers. An important part of the fight for your rights is legal reaction – writing complaints on such mediators. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to bring cheating employers to account. One of the reasons is rejection of the migrants to go to the court.
The problem of high xenophobia in St Petersburg and violence in regard to migrants, especially from Asia and Africa was also discussed. According to the psychologist of the ADC Memorial, “keeping problems inside is dangerous. They should be solved. On of the ways is a discussion on meetings like this one.”