Officials Indifferent to Concerns of Unemployed Townspeople
In the small northern town of Loksa, the local government is at best discouraged by the recession and at worst indifferent to the needs of the 13 percent of its residents who are unemployed.
Sixty-seven kilometers from Tallinn, Loksa has a population of 3,080, of whom 500 lost their jobs last year from a shipyard. Then, the town's two schools were merged, and a number of teachers also lost their jobs.
Lidia Gilina, 41, worked in the shipyard for eight years as a welder, but has now been unemployed for more than a year. The woman could get a job in Tallinn at the Elcoteq factory, where she was offered a wage of 2.8 euros per hour working 12 hour shifts.
But the obstacle was transportation. The bus leaves Loksa at 5:55 in the morning and arrives in the capital at 7:20. Gilina's shift would start 10 minutes later, which does not give her enough time to arrive promptly. "The employer would give us the job if we were able to get to Tallinn earlier and get to work on time," said Gilina. "When I approached the local government to move up the departure time of the first bus by 15 minutes, then no one wanted to hear a word of it."
Elcoteq, she said, is offering jobs to some 20 residents from Loksa, which would decrease the town's unemployment level by almost 10 percent.
When Gilina called Deputy Mayor Andres Kaskla, he hung up the phone. He did pick up the call from ERR, however, and said that the bus schedule is none of the municipal government's business.
"How can we help them, how do you expect us to do it? [...] If one bus changes its schedule, then the entire daily schedule needs to be remade," Kaskla told rus.err.ee.
Nor is the municipality able to hire its own bus, he said. "Don't you know [how bad] the state of the municipal governments is right now?" Kaskla asked. He suggested that residents write a letter to Harju County's public transportation service to ask to modify the bus schedule, offering to review the letter.
Only after being approached by the media, did town officials make the effort to call back Gilina and invited her in for discussion. But the discussion amounted to the deputy mayor suggesting that those looking for work in Tallinn hire their own bus driver.
"Kaskla said I could write a request but that he can't make any promises," said Gilina. "I decided to gather signatures from the other unemployed people and collectively approach the municipality."