The main production line of the Wienerberger AS brick factory in Aseri will be shut down for an unspecified span of time on August 31, the owner has said. The firm is likely to lay off 35 of 67 employees.
"We will retain production until then to fill our warehouse with all strategically important products, which will allow us to keep our customers supplied for a few years," the press release states. "The Aseri factory will continue making black products and cutting cornerstones and stone slabs."
The company's executive manager Margus Puusepp told ERR that it has discussed laying off 35 out of its 67 employees, while the exact figure will be clear in two weeks' time.
"It is a major social problem when 35 people lose their jobs and the local government that much income tax revenue," said Einar Vallbaum, Viru-Nigula Municipality mayor. "Whole families worked there, meaning that both the woman and man in the family will lose their jobs," he added.
The municipality mayor said that the local government has no jobs to offer people. "The central government ruined municipalities long ago," he said.
Wienerberger AS has promised to work closely with the Unemployment Insurance Fund to find the best possible opportunities and labor market alternatives for employees. "We sincerely thank all of them for their long-time contribution and cooperation," Helina Merioja, the company's head of HR and work safety for the Baltic region, is quoted as having said.
"We are convinced we will have the plant back up and running in the future, and the Aseri brick factory with its illustrious history will be making bricks again. Time will have to tell when that will be," she said.
Cooling market to blame
Wienerberger gave the war in Ukraine as the reason for the decision that put an end to the export of the company's products to Russia.
"Since then, we have been busy looking for alternative markets and attempting various projects on Wienerberger's other markets in Europe and the U.K. But the past 12 months' inflation in the Baltic region and elsewhere in Europe made it impossible to realize those project, and demand for the Aseri factory's products has largely disappeared," the company remarked.
"The Baltic market has cooled and Finland is looking at the same fate. Our hopes and expectations for Scandinavian and the Polish market have also failed to materialize. Considering all of these aspects, it is clear the production of the Aseri factory cannot continue in recent volume," the press release reads.
Wienerberger AS is a ceramic building materials manufacturer the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian units of which are part of the Wienerberger Group's Western European regional arm. The group's 217 plants in 27 countries all over the world make it the world's biggest ceramic building blocks and bricks maker and Europe's biggest ceramic roof tiles manufacturer.
The article was updated to add details and comments from the Viru-Nigula Municipality.
Editor: Marcus Turovski