Estonian Defense Forces to lay off entire orchestra

The Orchestra of the Estonian Defense Forces in 2018.
The Orchestra of the Estonian Defense Forces in 2018. Source: Riigikogu

On Friday, Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) chief conductor and chief of the orchestra Cpt. Simmu Vasar sent a letter to members of the unit to tell them that the orchestra will be laid off in full capacity starting September 1, Postimees writes.

As all ministries have been told to find cuts in their respective fields, Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform) conveyed to the EDF that they must follow the goal of saving on operational costs set in the government's state budget strategy.

According to the daily, EDF chief Lt. Gen. Martin Herem sent out a letter, in which he noted that the defense forces will reduce the number of staff by up to 200 people this year.

"In this year, we will certainly centralize referral, finance, personnel and legal services. /.../ I have already decided that the chaplain's service as well as the orchestra will cease to operate in this form," Herem wrote.

Herem: Salaries will not be cut

Lt. Gen. Martin Herem confirmed in an EDF press release sent on Sunday that he will present the defense minister with a proposal to reduce the number of active employees in the EDF by 200 - from 5,000.

"Since the public sector must cut costs based on the new state budget strategy and as such a request was also made to the EDF, we are also facing these tough decisions and reorganizations," Herem penned.

"The combat capability and readiness of the EDF should not suffer during these cuts. Resource cuts must be made through better organization, which is why cuts will focus on the reorganization of support services," Herem added.

Reorganizations will mostly be done in the centralization of referral, financial, personnel and legal services. Some areas, such as the chaplain's service and the EDF orchestra will cease to exist in their current form.

"Reducing the number of people does not always mean layoffs. We can also achieve the reduction by not filling the jobs that people are leaving this year," Herem said. "Cuts will affect all EDF structure units and both active and civilian staff. Salaries will not be cut to achieve savings."

In addition to staff costs, the defense forces must find savings in management costs, which are currently being drawn up. The EDF chief will present additional cuts to the defense minister in the beginning of June.



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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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