At Question Time of the Riigikogu today, Minister of Rural Affairs of Estonia Urmas Kruuse replied to the question of Member of the Riigikogu Peeter Ernits about Employment of seasonal workers in agriculture.
In his question, Ernits referred to the assessment of the Estonian Horticultural Association, according to which around 3000 workplaces had to be filled for performing seasonal work. He wanted to know whether there were enough seasonal workers among the war refugees from Ukraine to whom it would be possible to offer work in the fields, cattle farms and elsewhere in rural areas.
Replying to the question, Minister of Rural Affairs Urmas Kruuse said he had communicated with both farmers and the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund about seasonal workers. “If we look at the latest statistics, then according to the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, there is a demand for around 300 workers in agriculture as of 15 March,” Kruuse said. The Minister added that the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce had conducted a survey among its members and got the result that, in the opinion of the entrepreneurs, it was necessary to fill a little more than 1100 workplaces in the nearest future. Kruuse said that accommodation had also been offered for nearly the same number of workers.
Kruuse explained that the share of male labour force among the refugees was rather small and there were more people who had come from cities, but this did not mean that the people who had come had no possibilities to find work in the rural areas and thus also reduce the burden of the Estonian taxpayer. “The rural jobs are very diverse, there are easier and harder jobs,” Kruuse pointed out and stated that some of the jobs require higher qualifications. It is also necessary to understand the people who have just arrived. “Maybe during the very first weeks, they cannot start working because of their emotional state and the need for time to settle in, but the temporary protection status will also enable them to settle in and this is our possibility to make it easier.” The Minister of Rural Affairs added that the social aspect of getting work and the knowledge that they were able to manage by themselves were also important for the war refugees.
During Question Time, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas replied to Helle-Moonika Helme’s question about the situation in the country, Lauri Läänemets’s question about the availability of living space in the refugee crisis and Helir-Valdor Seeder’s question about the security crisis. The Head of Government also replied to Indrek Saar’s question about trade with Russia and Belarus, Heiki Hepner’s question about the war refugees, Mihhail Lotman’s question about NATO air space and the triggering of Article 5, Anti Poolamets’s question about supporting the Ukrainian defence forces and Riho Breivel’s question about border defence considering the Ukrainian experience.
Minister for Economy and Infrastructure Taavi Aas replied to Helmen Kütt’s question about paying compensation to those who accommodate the refugees.
The ministers also replied to other questions of the members of the Riigikogu.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)