Vilnius city librarians – struck by the National Language Inspection: those failing to pass the test will lose their jobs

Vilniaus centrinė biblioteka / BNS nuotr.

If you fail the national Lithuanian language exam – you cannot work. This was the situation encountered by the Vilnius Municipal Central Library employee, however, as the head of National Language Inspection told LRT.lt, the same rule is applied to all workers working with clients.

Eight of the Vilnius Municipal Central Library workers found out, that to secure their current position, they have to pass the national Lithuanian language exam. This instruction was given to the employees by the National Language Inspection, which released the order under the 2003 decision of the government.

The head of National Language Inspection Audrius Valotka explains that all individuals, who have to communicate to clients at work, must speak Lithuanian at a certain level. Otherwise they cannot work. This rule applies to all institutions – be it governmental, municipal, or private.

The head of Vilnius Municipal Central Library refuses to make the workers take the exam, because it, according to her, is a redundant and unnecessary decision. The library manager Rima Graziene says she is ready to even pay fines.

People will have to look for other jobs, for example, a loader operator, where one does not have to communicate with clients.

 Don’t speak the language – work as a loader operator

 According to A. Valotka, the order was passed based on the National Language law provision, that institutions’, organizations’ etc. workers, that communicate with clients in Lithuania must speak the Lithuanian language.

“When you go to a municipality, you have to be served in Lithuanian. The same applies when you go to a library. To successfully fulfil the provision, the people who have graduated non-Lithuanian schools, for instance, graduated a Russian school until 1991, have to have passed the national Lithuanian language exam” – says A. Valotka.

The exam has three categories, depending on what kind of job a person works at. As A. Valotka says, a door guard must pass the lower category, a librarian must pass the second category. The third category must be passed by the high-level professionals, such as air traffic controllers.

“It is the responsibility of the organizations, institutions’ managers to control these things. There are eight people in the Central library that do not meet the requirements. A mandatory indication has been passed that those people must pass the second category national Lithuanian language exam until the 7th of December” – Language Inspection manager says.

He assured, that those library staff, who do not pass the exam cannot continue working.

The manager of an institution must know and take care of those things.

 “People will have to look for other jobs, for example, a loader operator, where one does not have to communicate with clients” – A Valotka stated.

The head of the National Language Inspection also confirmed that the requirement would also be applied for, for instance, nurses. They would have to pass the second category too. In other words, the requirement is valid in any institution where staff have to communicate with clients.

“Those things are regulated, scientists’ have released methods, at what level you need to speak a language, how much you can abstractly express your thoughts, etc. The manager of an institution must know and take care of those things” – the head of inspection confirmed.

When asked, why, if the governmental decision was passed in 2003, only now the exam has been made mandatory for librarians, A. Valotka stated, that the reason is poor monetary support of the inspection. This means that only one inspection worker solves all of these questions in Lithuania.

Will rather pay fines

 Rima Graziene – The Vilnius Municipal Central Library manager – says she rates this requirement negatively and points out that all eight workers, who were told to take the exam, can fluently communicate in Lithuanian with library visitors.

“This is an absolutely unfounded requirement, I rate it very negatively. People have been working in the library for a very long time – 25, 30 years, they are all Lithuanian citizens, have a passport, pay taxes, vote, can write and speak Lithuanian, but did not pass the exam in 2003.

They can fine me, but we must start somewhere. Who needs such requirements? This is beyond reasonable. I am not going to make those people take the exam, I will pay the fines, if I have to.

 Why do we need it? The point is, that those staff members have graduated Russian or Polish schools. We have started terrorizing the workers by their nationality”, – the head of the library spoke angrily.

She pointed out, that the exam would give no results and would not change a thing. R Graziene says she is sure, that all eight staff members would pass the exam, however, it is only a formality.

“Who needs these formalities? Why do people, especially the elderly, need stress? How does one have to feel when going to that exam? What good does it bring? Nobody needs this. Such decisions should be reevaluated”, – R. Graziene said.

The library manager stated that she is not willing to make the workers take the exam and said she is ready to take the responsibility for it: “They can fine me, but we must start somewhere. Who needs such requirements? This is beyond reasonable. I am not going to make those people take the exam, I will pay the fines, if I have to.”

When asked, if every library visitor can easily communicate in Lithuanian with the library workers, R. Graziene assured, that all staff members speak Lithuania, otherwise, they would not work there.

“All of them are fluent, some maybe even more fluent that you or me. They were born in Lithuania. How could they work in a library if they could not speak Lithuanian? They have completed a higher education”, – library manager stated.

Graziene reassured, that there has not been a single case where an employee could not communicate with a client in Lithuanian.

The exam looks like humiliation

On social media, journalist Rimvydas Valatka posted, that he cannot believe this situation. According to him, this makes no sense: “What can I not believe? That Lithuanian citizens, who possess valid diplomas that allow them to work at a library, are being humiliated and scared under the name of the Republic. They are the elderly, some are already retired and still working, and yet they are being made to take the language exam

Tell me, why do we need this? What is the point of the exam? To take away one’s citizenship? The language police cannot do that. Or maybe the 60-year-old retiree will be fired from her job if she fails the exam?”

Valatka wrote, that if the Language inspection will be inspecting all the libraries in the country this way, a number of them can lose all of its employees, particularly, since the librarian salaries are so low, nobody will want to do this job. He also wrote that even if the librarians fail the exam, they cannot be fired under the protection of Labour Code.

“Why are people being humiliated? Why do we need to create enemies of Lithuania? Even an enemy would not come up with something this. And yet, 17 years ago, the beaver government of A Brazauskas’ came up with it, and the National language police executes this nonsense. What’s even worse, the decision of the beavers is being carried out very selectively

We would lose our last nurses, who, after experiencing such humiliation, would move to Norway to work for a much higher salary

Otherwise, Narkevicius, the Minister of Transport, must have been banned by the Language Police 55 times, and that is only counting the minister’s appearance in Seimas and TV. The destiny of most of the members of Seimas, other ministers, vice ministers and Government Chancellors would be the same”, – R. Valatka stated.

What is more, in his post, he raised a question, what would happen if the National Language Inspection decided to check the nurses of Vilnius hospitals and polyclinics. As R. Valatke wrote, most of the nurses are Lithuanian-Polish and Lithuanian-Russians: “We would lose our last nurses, who, after experiencing such humiliation, would move to Norway to work for a much higher salary

I am personally angered by the poor Lithuanian language abilities of  journalists, writers, politicians and other public figures, often the thesis speech university students’ kill me, moreover – I know, that even though I gain my bread through writing, my own native language skills are not perfect. But what angers me even more is when self-conscious language police use the Lithuanian language to satisfy their self-consciousness and do it under the name of my own country.”

Source: https://www.lrt.lt/naujienos/lietuvoje/2/1197634/sostines-bibliotekos-darbuotojams-kalbos-inspekcijos-smugis-neislaike-egzamino-liks-be-darbo

Tłumaczenie by Brigita Gerikaitė w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Brigita Gerikaitė within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

Leave a Reply

Submit Comment
https:
© 2011 efhr.eu. All rights reserved.