County and Unemployment Insurance Fund worried about lay-off wave in Põlva

Butchers at work in a small meat processing plant in Otepää, Valga County. Smaller local employers are extremely important for the more remote areas of Estonia. (KRISTJAN TEEDEMA/TARTU POSTIMEES)
8/29/2016 3:45 PM
Category: Business

Several small and medium-sized companies in the Põlva area have gone bankrupt or ceased operations over the past year. This brought along a wave of lay-offs, in which more than a hundred people lost their jobs. For Põlva County, this is a high number.

Altogether 318 people have been laid off in Põlvamaa over the last year. About a hundred of the lay-offs were connected to the reorganization of the county’s educational network, ETV’s “Aktuaalne Kaamera” newscast reported.

Riina Raudsepp, in charge of the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s Põlva branch, said that the lay-offs and the retreating companies represented a heavy setback for the area, as most locals would still prefer to work where they lived.

Over the last 12 months, 104 people added themselves to the fund’s list of unemployed in the area. For Põlva, with roughly 200 unemployed a year, this is a significant number. County governor Igor Taro told ERR that he was very worried about the situation, as 100 jobs weighed as much in Põlva as 1,000 did in Tartu.

The county’s remoteness compared to the main concentration of business infrastructure around Estonia’s major cities is definitely an issue. The local authorities have little leeway to make their location more attractive to businesses, chances are that what they do can be done by any other area, where again the matter of distance enters into it.

Within certain limits, there is reason for hope. Eesti Lihatööstus bought the meat processing plant in Vastse-Kuuste in June this year, and apart from new brands in shops will hopefully create a few new jobs as well.

Urmas Laht of the Estonian Pig Breeding Association said that the first new hires were already working, not many, but at least a few. He added that they were planning to increase the number of workers in the plant in two stages, first to 25, later to 40, and that in the longer term they expected the number of jobs to grow to somewhere between 60 and 100.

Like in the case of the meat processing company that gave up and left behind at least some infrastructure the new owner could take over, there are other instances where there is hope that new ownership might lead to factories and farms being reopened.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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