How citizens of Uzbekistan work as Gastarbeiters in Tajikistan
That citizens of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan seek employment in Russia and Kazakhstan is common knowledge. What information is available to Ferghana.Ru, however, indicates that some Uzbek Gastarbeiters are willing to work in Tajikistan as well.
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The Tajik city of Kanibadam borders on the Ferghana region of Uzbekistan. Boarding a minibus bound for Kanibadam, I found myself sitting next to a talkative young man. Eighty kilometers of the road passed in the blink of the eye, so absorbing was the conversation.
The young man said he was on a two-month leave from Russia where he was making money.
"Repair the house is the first thing I'll do," he said. "I'll have another house build for my son then, and marry him off."
"But will two months be enough for everything? I mean building a new house, marrying the son..." I wanted to know.
"No problems here. It takes 20 days to build a new house. I'll hire Uzbek mardikors [workers - Ferghana.Ru]. My family has already done whatever is necessary," was the reply.
"Uzbek mardikors?" - "Sure. Almost all of Kanibadam is being built by them nowadays." - "And where does one find them?" - "Checkpoint Patar. Just make sure to get there as early in the day as possible."
The following morning this correspondent set out for Checkpoint Patar not far from Besharyk in the Ferghana region and encountered groups of young men engaged in animated conversations. One of the young Uzbeks was standing apart.
"My name is Jamoliddin," he said when approached. "I'm from the kishlak of Koraikuli, Besharyk district. I was a budget sphere employee at first but quit the job. The money the state is paying... man cannot live on it. They paid me 45,000 sums [$34.5 - Ferghana.Ru]."
"Do they pay better in Tajikistan?" I asked.
"Much better. Three times as much, actually."
"But I know that very many people seek employment in Russia... Why not go there?"
"We have a saying - Uzokdagi kuirukdan jakindagi kok non jahshi. It stands for "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush". Where Russia is concerned, one has to go there for a year at least - just to make it worthwhile. Tickets there and back are quite expensive, you know. Besides, they do not treat mardikors properly in Russia," the man said. "In Tajikistan, it's different. We understand each other. Chow is all right, bunks are free... You want to go home? No problems. Once your contract is fulfilled, collect you fee and go home. A fortnight worth of rest, and you are welcome back. Why would I want to go to Russia when I can go to Tajikistan?"
"I worked in Leningrad last year," another Uzbek joined us. "I was constantly afraid of encountering the police there..."
"Did you observe registration procedures upon arrival?" I wanted to know.
"Why bother? They do not care if we are from Uzbekistan or Tajikistan. We all are illegal foreigners for them. On the other hand, I myself made a mistake my first month there. It was a lapse of personal judgement... I was a construction worker then. Immigration Service officials once turned up and demanded to see our papers. Our foreman, a local, arrived soon afterwards and wanted to know what was happening. Why we were not working, that is. We said immigration officials were checking our documents. "What's the matter?" he asked one of them. "You've got foreigners here, without papers," the official replied. "Come on, what foreigners?" the man said and turned to us. "You guys are foreigners? Get the hell out of here!" That was all. He drove us out or, to be more exact, turned us over to the authorities. That was my last trip to Russia. Enough is enough. Kanibadam is better."
In other words, Uzbek Gastarbeiters find Kanibadam a better place to seek employment in.