Montenegro Defends Curbs on Foreign Work Permits

08 Apr 15

Montenegro Defends Curbs on Foreign Work Permits

New limits on the employment of foreigners in Montenegro in force since April 1 have angered some employers – but the government says it has a duty to protect domestic workers.

Dusica Tomovic


The Montenegrin government on Tuesday snubbed calls to delay implementation of controversial new regulations limiting work permits for foreigners.

The Ministry of Interior said employers had been given enough time to get familiar with the changes to employment law, months before they took force on April 1.

“It is not true that the Montenegrin workers are so incompetent that employers need to hire foreigners,” a ministry offical, Abid Crnovrsanin, told the press in response to claims by the association of employers that the domestic workforce could not meet the market’s demands.

For some years, Montenegro has set annual quotas for the employment of foreigners within which employers can hire workers of any nationality. The quota for 2015 has been set at 23,500.

However, the new law in force since last week provides that, regardless of the annual quota, foreign nationals may only be taken on if domestic workers with the appropriate qualifications are unavailable.

Employers may hire a waiter or low-qualified construction worker from abroad, for example, only after the national Employment Service agrees that no local workers are available or want the job.

Montenegrin companies working in tourism and the construction business are dismayed. They have relied for years on seasonal workers from the region, which is why numerous associations requested changes, or at least a delay to the implementation of new law until after this year’s summer season.

They say that imposing limits on the principle of the free movement of labour will negatively affect the already problematic economy.

The head of the Tourism Board of the Montenegrin Chamber of Commerce, Dragan Ivancevic, said the tourist season had already begun and there was not much time for employers to prepare for new circumstances.

“The education system of Montenegro is not able to turn out a sufficient number of workers with the skills that are needed for certain industries,” he complained.

The government argues that it has a duty to protect domestic workers from being undercut.

Crnovrsanin, for the Interior Ministry, said Montenegro had allowed a disproportionately large number of foreigners to work in the country.

Montenegro issued more than 30,000 of the total of 57,000 work permits for foreigners issued by six countries in the region in 2014, he said.

Those other countries also have big tourism and construction industries, he said, noting that Croatia, which is a major tourist destination and a member of the EU, issed just 3,000.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)