Woodworkers facing layoffs as industry faces tough times

Wood industry.
Wood industry. Source: ERR

Workers in the wood and lumber industry are facing an uncertain future as the sector faces tough challenges. This is due to economic conditions and additional restrictions on forest management activities, companies believe.

Jane Väli, head of the Unemployment Insurance Fund's Tartu County department told Monday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" 700 workers have been laid off in the region this year and roughly 25 percent were previously employed in the wood industry.

The rate of redundancies in the sector has increased in recent months. Both companies Palmako and Lasita Maja recently announced they will terminate contracts.

Väli lays the blame on the economic situation. She said companies are having difficulties accessing materials and have seen a reduction in orders.

Henrik Välja, Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association CEO, said hundreds of people have been laid off from the industry.

"Mainly, companies have been forced to reduce the number of shifts they can work," said Välja.

Tarmeko Group said it has not made redundancies but the situation is not good. Board member Jaak Nigul said problems are mainly caused by nature conservation restrictions.

"More protected areas are being created, or under some other pretext /.../ mature forests are being taken out of cutting, and that actually means that the price of timber is going up all the time," he told AK.

Nigul also said Estonia's industry's international competitiveness is falling.

"If we have to compete with the Finns, whose raw materials are almost three times cheaper, then how do we compete? I don't understand why we have to compensate, for example, for the pollution of Dutch tulip growers at the cost of the disappearance of rural Estonia. Estonian politicians and officials do not stand up for the interests of Estonian businesses and people, especially rural people," he said.

This was also highlighted by Välja from the Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association.

"If we look at the international market, the price of raw materials in Estonia is significantly higher than our competitors," he said.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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