Lithuanians abroad resist calls to return

  • 2007-11-07
  • By Kimberly Kweder
VILNIUS - Rytis Ivanauskas, director of the Eikos Statyba construction company, has given up his attempts to lure Lithuanians back home from Ireland to work.
A few months ago, in need of about 50 to 100 skilled laborers, he decided to publish advertisements in two Lithuanian newspapers in Ireland.

"We try to motivate our workers and pay them well. Our salaries are approximately 1,000 euros [3,452 litas] before taxes so I would say it's lower [than other countries], but living here is cheaper and more comfortable. Most of the Lithuanians in Ireland live away from their families," Ivanauskas told The Baltic Times. 
As tempting as the offer sounds, the ads garnered zero results.
"No phone calls or e-mails were made to us. I don't think placing ads is an effective way and so I think we'll continue looking for people locally," Ivanauskas said.

Since Lithuania joined the European Union, the free movement of workers has prompted Lithuanians to leave the country in pursuit of higher salaries and better working conditions abroad, particularly in Ireland. Census figures from 2006 show that 24,600 Lithuanians now live in the country, though the figure is probably much higher as many immigrants don't fill out the census forms, the Irish Independent reports.
Meanwhile, Lithuanian companies face a labor shortage as many of those who leave don't return.
Statistics Lithuania reports 1,000 Lithuanians emigrated to Ireland from January - August 2007, while the number of Lithuanians returning home from there dropped from 766 to 631 between 2006 and 2007 according data from Declaration of Place of Residence documents.

While many Lithuanian companies struggle to find locals to work, Irish companies are hiring more foreigners than ever before.
Some are snatching up lumber jobs at Coalrain Sawmills Ltd. The company hired 31 foreigners, including Lithuanians and Poles.
"We didn't have enough skilled laborers locally so we have foreigners taking over and it's been a benefit because they are coming into the job already trained in machinery and lumber work," said Carmel Bynane of the company's wages department.
Coalrain's pays the workers 8.65 euros/hour (29.86 litas) and higher depending on the level of experience, Bynane said.

Meanwhile, despite little to no influx of workers to Lithuania, efforts to spread the word about the country's labor shortfall continue.
The Lithuanian Labor Exchange participated in a European Employment Services program in September which organized an event in Ireland to make sure Lithuanians understand the country's needs. 
Monika Vysniauskiene, head of foreign relations at the Lithuanian Labor Exchange said the main reasons Lithuanians don't return to their mother country is that they have accommodation, job security and higher salaries abroad. She also spoke of the Lithuanian work ethic.

"If they have a labor contract, Lithuanians feel obliged to do something until the end of their term. They are known in Ireland to be good employees and they don't want to disappoint their employer," Vysniauskiene said.
But she remains hopeful that the message will finally get out and that Lithuanians will see the opportunities presented by returning home.

"I think there is still not enough information for Lithuanians abroad and we still need to attract them to come back to Lithuania," Vysniauskiene said.