• Jekaterina Chistjakova
  • Jelena Tunkels
  • Vladimir Tunkels
Location:
Peterhead
Date:
Saturday 6th December 2008
Reference:
SWI2008/022

Simon:

Is Russian your first language or Latvian?

     

Vladimir:

Yes, our mother tongue is Russian but we are from Latvia. I and my sister speak in Latvian language. My wife also speaks in this language but she’s from Russia. I married in Russia. We’re from Latvia though, yes.

 

We speak in Latvian language. But in Latvia many people know Russian. It’s not Poland, it’s not Lithuania. Many people know, many people know. And very good speaking Russian. Now it is problem. Young people don’t want to speak Russian. Forget. “We are only speaking Latvian.” All my life I live in Latvia, I know it’s language. But now begin to live in Scotland, having problems with language. At all times teaching (learning). But I takes book. I read, teach and forget. Teach and forget.

Simon:

It’s harder when you’re older to learn a new language.

     

Vladimir:

Hmm ... Is one problem what I can’t recognise, all sounds. For me this language is a lot of short sounds. Short sounds, it’s very difficult to recognise, yes. It’s difficult language. Difficult to understand when I want to have friends.

Jekaterina:

When speak very quickly, it’s very difficult. When speak slowly and …

     

Vladimir:

At work I don’t have problem. I have drawings. I have manager. He say: “You understand?” I say: “Yes.” No problem. If I understand drawing, I don’t have problem ... (inaudible) ... is not ... (inaudible) ... to speak with people. Yes, if you have good experience you ... you might ask questions but it’s not ... people are friendly, yes, very friendly. I meet very friendly people. Yes. I have friends! We don’t speak in English but it’s very friendly for me. If I have problems, I want to have ... The first time I buy my first car in Scotland, my friend Steven helped me to get the insurance. Yes, it was ... he has problems because he say a lot of questions but ... for me, life in Scotland is not difficult but I think is not place I stay for all times. I dream when I come back at home. Maybe it’s second problem that I don’t speak in English.

Simon:

Do you have children?

     

Vladimir:

I ... three children. Yes, three children. My older daughter live in Spain, my son live in Ireland in Galway and my little daughter, she’s nineteen years old, in Latvia in Ilūkste.

Simon:

Is it difficult being apart from ... well, your children are grown up so ...?

     

Vladimir:

Difficult without children? Hmm ... It’s ...

     

Jekaterina:

... (inaudible) ...

     

Vladimir:

No, no, no, it’s not ... I was ... I feel that I am man when I was seventeen years old. I begin to work. If I made foolish problem for myself, it’s only my problem. For my money, for my life, it’s only my problem. I can’t ... (inaudible) ... If my children made problem, it’s not my problem. It’s problem for my children. I think it’s right. Old people dream about freedom, about independence ... (laughs) Yes, all for your money. Not for me. I help my little daughter with her education. Yes I send money but others, no. If she finished education, I finish to send money. Long time ago I say: “I pay only for good job. You want to get good education? Yes, I pay for it. You study? Yes, OK. You finish study? You want to work? Yes, OK. All foolish problem is your problem.” And is OK.

Simon:

How long have you been in Scotland?

     

Vladimir:

I am three years. Wife?

Jekaterina:

Two years.

Jelena:

Only one. From January I am here.

Simon:

So you came first.

     

Jelena:

Yes, he did. He came first.

     

Vladimir:

I was the first ... The first time I work Yorkshire, in fish farm, Yorkshire. Now have problem with money, come back at home. Six month was without love! (laughs) And then again in Scotland. Find again job and stay three years in one place.

Simon:

Peterhead or ...?

     

Vladimir:

Yes, Peterhead.

Simon:

With Freshcatch or ...?

     

Vladimir:

No, no, no. In Freshcatch work my friends. Brothers, Darius and Anders. We together work in Buchan workshop. Some people understand ... I have not best friends from Scottish people because a lot of people work and find other job and go other place but I understand him. When I try to go to make change from job, he help me but I was saying: “I pay you more. OK, you pay me more? I stay with these friends.” (laughs) Only money, only money.

Simon:

I guess you’re lucky you have skills people want.

     

Vladimir:

Emm ... I don’t know. If I don’t have problem in job, in three years I work and without language ... (laughs)

Simon:

And what work are you doing?

     

Jekaterina:

We, together with Jelena, we work in seafood in the fish factory ... emm ... isn’t fish factory, is little factory where we do scallops and prawns, packing.

Simon:

Did you come here because your brother was here or ...?

     

Jekaterina:

They were here and last year was very difficult for my family and we ... We decided that I can work here. He say I need to ...

     

Vladimir:

Maybe find job in Scotland. Maybe ...

     

Jekaterina:

And now I am here with my ...

     

Vladimir:

Brother.

     

Jekaterina:

(laughs) And ...

     

Vladimir:

And she is your sister in law. (laughs)

     

Jekaterina:

Sister. At the first we work in some fish factories in pelagic (herring and mackerel).

Vladimir:

And she worked for an agency. The first thing ...

Jekaterina:

We were from agency. And from May we work in ... (inaudible) ...

Vladimir:

I think need change. Very difficult job to have.

     

Jekaterina:

Very difficult job.

     

Vladimir:

Very difficult job.

     

Simon:

Cold and ...?

     

Vladimir:

Yes, cold and ... I’m struggling ... (speaks in Russian) ... must be very strong.

     

Simon:

So it’s tiring?

     

Jekaterina:

Hmm?

     

Simon:

So you get tired if you work ...?

     

Jekaterina:

Mmm ... So-so. One week we have a little hours ...

Vladimir:

It’s very interesting because they make ... (inaudible) ... They pay money, money. Is no work, they pay money. Next week, it’s very busy. Very busy. Then ...

Jekaterina:

Last week we had only twenty-seven hours, this week we have fifty hours.

Vladimir:

It’s very, very different.

     

Jekaterina:

Very different with working hours.

     

Vladimir:

But is not different for money because they pay level. If they made more, more. They pay little more. But one day it’s all week. All week’s they have now ... It’s not bad level but difficult work. Very difficult in scallops. I think ...

Vladimir:

I own the sharp knives!

     

Jelena:

It is job.

     

Jekaterina:

We have job. It is general for us now.

     

Simon:

Are your families still in Latvia then?

     

Jekaterina:

Husband and daughter and ...

Vladimir:

And granddaughter!

Jekaterina:

(laughs) ... and granddaughter! And now I didn’t see them one year.

Vladimir:

Yes, very difficult.

     

Jekaterina:

I ... It is very difficult for me, yes. But ...

     

Vladimir:

She stay, she not going holidays. Not have holidays. She wanted to stay.

Jekaterina:

Only Christmas and only New Year I can to be with ...

Simon:

Is that usual for a woman to come on her own first? Most families I’ve met, the men come first and the women follow.

     

Vladimir:

What you ask?

     

Simon:

I was saying that often it’s the man that comes first. Like you came first.

     

Vladimir:

Ah, no. It’s very different because I ...

     

Jekaterina:

In Latvia is ...

     

Vladimir:

No ... I came to ... it was not too bad job. I was very little lost. And she have job.

     

Jekaterina:

I have very hard job in Latvia. I work ... Is different.

Vladimir:

Is different money. And this place in Scotland ...

Jekaterina:

We had credit in bank so we ... My husband, he lost job, and only my money ... We can’t live normal in Latvia. Daughter without job, husband without job, my money very little credit ... and two dogs! (laughs)

Vladimir:

Ah, dogs is ... in the forest they stay!

     

Jekaterina:

No, no.

     

Simon:

Is your daughter grown up as well then? Is she an adult?

     

Jekaterina:

Uh ... Daughter, she can’t now to work because ... (inaudible) ... Because her daughter is very little now.

Vladimir:

Small. Small child. Is very difficult. And next ... And if you say don’t want ... (speaks in Russian with Jekaterina) OK. She wanted a job for herself also but she wanted very interesting job.

Jekaterina:

She finished school. She finished technical school. She had very good diploma from technical school but she hadn’t job.

Vladimir:

This trade is finished in Latvia. She has occupation but they don’t have job. Lot of people now finds these job. A lot of people and all the people, young ...

Jekaterina:

She want to work and she want to work how ...

     

Vladimir:

For her occupation.

     

Jekaterina:

Yes, but in Latvia it is very difficult to find job.

Vladimir:

She ...

     

Jekaterina:

She know two languages, Russian and Latvian. Now she want English too but she helps husband to work. Only he work from home so ... is without job, is ...

Jelena:

... is an ‘alien’ (without full Latvian citizenship).

Vladimir:

Ah. She ask one ... We have one problem. My mother and my wife is ...

     

Vladimir:

They don’t have citizenship. Is not big problem but my father and I say: “It’s not right government. I have my wife now, my child have mother now.” It’s very ... maybe it’s not but it’s problem. People work all time, live and work in Latvia. And I don’t like ... in my country, very good people and very bad government! (laughs) It’s ... they don’t have money. They rob people. My country was, Latvia was, one of the strongest parts of the Soviet Union. Very high education, very high trades level. Was very high. Now we have all factories closed, all factories closed. Farmers live ... level, maybe.

Jelena:

Middle and ...

     

Vladimir:

Yes, middle and down ... very ... but leave people and people try to leave now and now many Latvian try to live in Ireland. Not too many in Scotland.

Jekaterina:

I want ...

     

Vladimir:

Ah, she wanted to live in ... long time.

     

Jekaterina:

Yes, yes.

     

Vladimir:

But wanted to come back ... It’s not good ... This country don’t like ... She can’t ... Government don’t like Russians in Latvia but we have a lot of friends. A lot of our life was in Latvia. And the government may change. I am fifty years old and I make change of countries. It’s very difficult. Change of countries is very difficult and other people, friendly but hard. Very friendly people but other people. I have friends but it’s not ... my friends is other ... I don’t have in bar, I don’t go in pub. I don’t like to sit down in pub. I more like in forest, when we can sit in forest. I like to find mushrooms. You don’t really eat but we find forests in the summer. We find forests, is old forests. But find mushrooms. Like to with my friends to speak about us problems but ... I want to have ... to come back. I stay only ...

Simon:

How did you get involved with the organisation, the Migrant Workers Association? You’re all members of it?

     

Vladimir:

Members, yes. But ... yes, it’s for ... and I think it’s not the right idea. Many people don’t know what ... difficult to say. All my problems I solve. If I wanted to, I find other peoples. I find many people don’t do it. They stay in only one place. They have problems, stay in one place. Don’t find need help. It’s not bad really. It’s good. And I meet people from my country is no speak in other language. Understand ... (inaudible) ...

Jelena:

In Latvia immigrant ...

Vladimir:

Yeah, yeah.

     

Simon:

Do you have a Russian passport or a Latvian passport?

     

Vladimir:

No. She has an alien passport.

Simon:

Ireland?

     

Vladimir:

Alien. (laughs) In Russian, she don’t have citizenship only.

Jekaterina:

Me, my brother and I, we have passport and Jelena, she has ... what? (speaks in Russian to Vladimir)

     

Vladimir:

Ah! Colour of passport is ... and ... it’s not all about colours of passport but ...

Jekaterina:

And when people ... (speaks in Russian)

     

Vladimir:

She speak it ...

     

Jekaterina:

My husband is a ...

     

Vladimir:

Alien too.

     

Jekaterina:

Alien too. And he is from Russia. He comes from Latvia, to Latvia, in eighteenth of ... (speaking in Russian)

Simon:

80s?

     

Vladimir:

Yes, 80s. From 80s. She is from Latvia.

     

Jekaterina:

He is from Latvia but ... he look for job but he don’t ... he doesn’t find job because he is alien.

Vladimir:

Yes, he is ... (inaudible) ...

     

Jekaterina:

Don’t you have blue passport if you don’t know perfectly Latvian language?

Vladimir:

Yes.

     

Jekaterina:

It is very difficult.

     

Vladimir:

Yes, without Latvian language. No job. If you have problem with language, is now ... is in Latvia language inspector and they go in workplace. It’s not matter, it’s ...

Jekaterina:

If you ...

     

Vladimir:

Workshops, shop as place of work ...

     

Jekaterina:

Factories ...

     

Vladimir:

It go and ask and ask. You can’t understand, you don’t answer, you have problem. And your employer. Next, you are out from job without language. If I am welder, good welder, I think I’m to make good weld, yes? Speak, no. Maybe. I try to speak. But Latvia is different. Is at first you speak Latvian and next, maybe ...

Jekaterina:

A welder!

     

Vladimir:

Yes. Many people works in Latvian. In Latvia, Latvian very difficult.

     

Jelena:

... (inaudible) ...

     

Jekaterina:

In Latvia, I work to be postman and there are ... No, problem was the one girl who very good to do her job but she very little speak Latvian. He lost job because he can’t ...

Vladimir:

No, ‘she’.

     

Jekaterina:

She lost job because she don’t understand well man. He came in post and ask to this girl something and she don’t understand what he want two hours. And she lose job.

Vladimir:

No but ... it’s worth with people. It’s postman work with people, needed language. In workshop if I am welder, if I am fitter, if I am plumber ... Plumbing? You want to have good heating, if you know problem with water only. If people want to speak with people as occupation, it’s not plumbing, it’s not welding, in Latvia the first is speak. No language, no job. And in Scotland, in United Kingdom, no English, no friends. Yes, no language, no friends you have.

Simon:

Did you come to Scotland because you have a Latvian passport and your husband can’t because he’s got an ‘alien’ passport?

     

Vladimir:

Can’t find job and it’s long time find job, no job, for only once she pay. She come here. If you want to find job in Scotland, come.

Simon:

So you’ve got EU ...? You’re recognised by the European Union but your husband is not? And it’s the same for you but because you’re married ...?

     

Vladimir:

Yeah. I back home, she back home. Difficult. It’s very difficult but it’s not difficult for ... All difficults are so, it’s no problem. And if I want I may become ... (inaudible) ... It’s not only place where I live all my life. In Scotland. If I beginning to have big problem, I change. I don’t stay in one place. I don’t wait and life was bad and ... I don’t stay.

Simon:

Did you have difficulty coming here then because you have got a different passport?

     

Vladimir:

Yes, it was ... Now she’s United Kingdom resident.

Jelena:

I now am ... Home Office ...

Vladimir:

No, no, no. License ... No, Home Office is license for the job. From Home Office. She don’t have work only because I have Home Office license and she is now United Kingdom resident and have job. Is not illegal job. Without visa, with me, she may not to be in Scotland.

Simon:

Why?

     

Vladimir:

It’s two kinds of people. (laughs) We both have kinds, I don’t know. It was ... Is good people, bad people. Now is first kind people and second.