Regional governor bans all foreigners from driving taxis
The leader of Russia’s Tyumen region has issued a decree completely banning all foreigners from working in the public transport system, in a move that will force taxi and bus companies to only hire drivers with a Russian passport.
The move follows announcements made by the heads of other regions, such as Moscow, where the mayor recently announced that it was developing a plan to eliminate migrant labor in the construction industry.
Like construction, taxi-driving is popular with many economic migrants in Russia due to the lack of any professional qualification and ease of finding a job. In Tyumen, where the new decree has been signed, companies will have until March 1 to completely transition to a Russian-only workforce.
The Tyumen region will become the second in the country to implement such a law. The decision was made earlier by the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, which is a self-run area within the Tyumen region’s boundaries. As well as restrictions on public transport, foreigners will also be banned from working in shops that sell alcohol and cigarettes.
Many parts of the Russian economy are reliant on migrant labor, but the political sentiment is moving towards attempting to make industries entirely independent from foreign workers. The vast majority of migrant workers in Russia are from former Soviet republics, such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine.
Earlier this year, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a severe shortage of workers, and the country is now struggling to implement its extensive plans for development.
In November, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin called on people from outside the city to move to the capital and take up work on one of the city’s many building sites to fill in the gap left by the foreign worker shortage.
“We need people with different qualifications, for a different salary – and fewer migrants, of which we have a lot today,” he announced, noting that a critical priority needs to be “attracting more Russians from nearby areas, raising wages and improving working conditions.”