BC-LATVIA-LANGUAGE FIRINGS

BC-LATVIA-LANGUAGE FIRINGS
PARLIAMENT ALLOWS JOB DISMISSALS FOR SPEAKING POOR LATVIAN<­

RIGA, LATVIA (AP) _ OFFICIALS CAN DEMAND THAT COMPANIES TERMINATE CONTRACTS WITH EMPLOYEES WHO DON’T HAVE SUFFICIENT COMMAND OF LATVIAN, UNDER A NEW MEASURE APPROVED BY PARLIAMENT, THE BALTIC NEWS SERVICE REPORTED FRIDAY.
AN EMPLOYER THAT REFUSES SUCH AN ORDER FROM THE STATE LANGUAGE INSPECTORATE CAN BE TAKEN TO COURT, THE REPORT SAID.
PARLIAMENTARY OPPONENTS OF THE MEASURE SAID IT WAS A VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND COMPLAINED THAT THERE WERE NO REGULATIONS DEFINING WHAT CONSTITUTES SUFFICIENT LANGUAGE SKILLS.
LANGUAGE HAS BEEN A CONTINUAL ISSUE OF TENSION SINCE LATVIA BECAME INDEPENDENT OF THE SOVIET UNION IN 1991.
ABOUT ONE-THIRD OF LATVIA’S 2.6 MILLION PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE CITIZENSHIP, LARGELY BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT REQUIRES CITIZENS TO DEMONSTRATE PROFICIENCY IN THE LATVIAN LANGUAGE. ETHNIC RUSSIANS AND RUSSIAN-SPEAKERS, MOST OF WHOM SETTLED IN LATVIA DURING THE SOVIET ERA, MAKE UP A LARGE PORTION OF THESE RESIDENTS.
06 FEB 98

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