SHOULEVA'S LIST IS NOT SCHINDLER'S LIST
Since January 2003 when the obligation for all labour contracts to be registered at the National Insurance Institute (NII) came in force, not a single week has passed without Lidiya Shouleva, Deputy Premier and Minister of Labour and Social Policy, bragging about employers from the grey economy that she has brought into the light. But in this oratorio of boasting some trumpets in Ms. Shuleva's orchestra sound out of tune.A reporter's check, provoked by readers' calls, has established that for a third month now the Social Ministry's website has been publishing an old list of licensed firms, having the right to mediate in sending Bulgarians to work abroad. And under the Council of Ministers' Ordinance on the terms and order for mediation in hiring workers (published in the Official Gazette Issue 55 from 1998) the list should be updated each month. This is also necessitated by the circumstance that the licence is issued for a certain period of time and can be suspended or revoked if violations are established. In the introduction to Ms. Shouleva's list it is underlined that it was updated on February 1, 2003. However, it included the same firms which had licences as of January 1, 2003. (Their names were published in issues 5 and 6 of the BANKER weekly.) And again those that advertise work in Israel are first in the list, although on February 5 the Israeli Government forbade the hiring of new building workers for the country in connection with the crisis in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Chief Labour Inspectorate with the Social Ministry announced that 35 illegaly operating mediators in finding employment abroad were caught out during inspections over the last two months alone. They are not listed in the Social Ministry's website. The organizers of students' brigades abroad are neither there. Practically, nobody controls their operation because they hire students for seasonal work and no licence is required for such activities, said the Inspectorate's Head Totyu Mladenov. However, he noted that more than 28,000 violations in the sphere of employment have been established from January till end-March. Eight hundred statements for violations of labour contracts have been drawn up and the fine for each of them is BGN1,000. Mr. Mladenov recalled also that April 30 is the deadline for registration of old labour contracts at the NII.Obviously, this the latest fashion at the Social Ministry and within ten days Ms. Shouleva will certainly brag about her success in combatting grey economy. But in addition to the grey economy there is also high rate of unemployment and fly-by-night firms which profiteer from it. Ms. Shouleva's list of licensed mediators for finding employment abroad might be helpful to jobless people if it is updated on a regular basis.