Thousands of Bosnians working abroad return home due to loss of job

Sarajevo – Several thousand Bosnian nationals working abroad have returned to their homeland in the past few months, after losing a job due to the economic crisis and recession that hit the countries where they worked.

According to the data of the B-H Unemployment Office, the total of 2,737 employees reported to the relevant services after they lost their job abroad. Economic analysts believe that the number of people who were fired aboard is probably even higher, because some of them have not yet reported to the unemployment offices. 

“Generally, the foreign employees, including our people working abroad, have been the first victims of the recession in the West, and their return is the first direct effect of the global economic crisis on Bosnia-Hercegovina,” Goran Radivojac, Banja Luka Economics Faculty professor, has said.

According to the official data, 60 per cent of the employees who returned to Bosnia-Hercegovina came back from Slovenia, 1,642, while 787 people lost their job in Croatia. The next is Austria, where 125 B-H nationals were fired, and 111 were declared redundant in Serbia. The recession affected 39 B-H nationals working in Germany, and the number of fired people is somewhat lower in other countries, such as Montenegro, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, and Denmark.

“The employees in question are mostly with high school education, with university degree, and manual workers, who worked in the automobile industry, the metal processing industry, and the textile industry, as well as in companies that produced technical goods and equipment. A certain number of people who worked in the construction sphere also lost jobs,” Sanela Zeljkovic, an officer in the B-H Unemployment Office, said.

Radivojac also noted that people who lost jobs were mostly those whose jobs did not require sophisticated knowledge and specialized training.

“Those who had a job in the automobile industry and were fired certainly did not work in the project designing departments, but on the conveyor belt in the production or on processing some smaller parts,” he noted.

Certain traditional harbours for the workers from this country dried up due to the recession, but, at the same time, the people working abroad said that some other, “exotic,” destinations had opened up. Momcilo Mirjanic from Bosanska Gradiska is a construction worker, who is earning for living in the former Soviet Union; he said that the situation in Russia, the biggest market in that region, was also getting less attractive.

“A lot of businesses went bankrupt in Russia due to the economic crisis and untimely payments, so, some of our people working there are also going back home, but some are going to Azerbaijan, because the crisis has not affected its construction sector yet. According to certain assessments, around 1,000 people from Bosnia-Hercegovina and Serbia are currently working there,” Mirjanic said, adding that he expected to get a job in Azerbaijan soon.

[Box] Fewer Money Transfers from Abroad

There were fewer money transfers to Bosnia-Hercegovina from our people working aboard in the course of last year compared to the previous periods, due to their loss of jobs, reduction of salaries, and the increasing fear for their own means.

According to the most recent data of the B-H Central Bank, the Bosnians working abroad were helping their families and friends at home by sending around 1.8 billion convertible marks in the first nine months of last year, and they sent 2.7 billion convertible marks in the course of 2007.

“If the expected drop in money transfers from aboard does happen in the course of this year, the effects of that will be an additional pressure on the current deficit in Bosnia-Hercegovina; this deficit has been, so far, financed partly from this source,” Goran Radivojac said.

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