Kohtla-Järve fertilizer producer Nitrofert has dismissed 99 workers, with the rest of the combined 426 set to leave in the next few months.
The 426 job losses for the region came on top of 200 lay-offs by Eesti Energia, the state-owned energy giant, prompting a few defense experts to call on the government to act quickly. The area is majority Russian-speaking and experts, such as Academic Center for Baltic and Russian Studies chief Vladimir Juškin and Center of Defense and Security deputy head Martin Hurt, said large-scale unemployment problems could lead to social unrest, anti-government sentiment and an increased risk of so called green men on the streets. Juškin said those who are dissatisfied and feeling left alone by the state will find new people to listen to, including foreign agitators.
Nitrofert said the largest round of lay-offs will come at the end of October, when 283 people will be let go. Over 100 of them are of pension age.
Nitrofert director Aleksei Nikolajev said the plant was fixed up in 2013, but they could not manage to restart production as world market prices for inorganic fertilizer fell and have not recovered.
The government said the employment office has enough means to combat the problem and aid the newly unemployed.
Unemployment fund brimming
Töötukassa, the employment office, reserves were calculated at 610 million euros at the beginning of the year with the office itself saying the fund is too big and unemployment insurance rates should be cut.
The Ministry of Social Affairs has proposed freezing unemployment insurance rates until the beginning of 2017, when rates should drop from 2.4 to 2.1 percent of a monthly salary, 1.4 percent paid by the employee and 0.7 percent by the employer. The current rates are 1.6 percent paid by the employee and 0.8 by the company.
Editor: J.M. Laats