Still recovering from crisis, Narva energy techs hoping for cold winter ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

One of Narva's power plants.
One of Narva's power plants. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Narva power plant trade union is continuing to recover from this summer's crisis: furloughs have come to an end, but layoffs continue. Trade unions are hoping, however, that a cold winter will prove the need for the plants.

The decision by the owner of energy group Eesti Energia to ensure 1,000 megawatts of electricity generation capacity through 2023 granted power plant employees some long-awaited future prospects.

According to Andrei Zaitsev, head of the Narva Energy Trade Union, energy blocks are being held on standby, but that means that employees are at work and getting paid, and jobs are being maintained.

Not all jobs, however — since August and through the end of the year, just over 300 employees are being laid off in the energy field.

"Layoffs are inevitable, as the amount of equipment in operation decreased," Zaitsev explained. "The layoffs will come in three stages in late October, November and December. As of today, employment contracts were terminated with 30 power plant employees, and these people were laid off. This is a painful decision, but life makes up its own rules."

According to the head of the trade union, the majority of those laid off were connected to mining and equipment maintenance. A total of approximately 70 people will lose their jobs at the power plants, the majority of whom are over 60 years old. The energy group will be spending €2.5 million on company pensions as well as stipends for retraining.

Those to keep their jobs, meanwhile, will have to be prepared to quickly bring the power plants up to full power if necessary.

Zaitsev confirmed, however, that thus far, nobody has remained jobless for long.

"If there is no work for electricity production-related equipment at the moment, then employees are found other work that is likewise necessary for keeping energy blocks in working order and prepared to operate quickly when needed," he explained. "So it isn't and won't be the case that people are sitting around jobless."

Hopes are high that this upcoming winter will be a cold one, which typically means more work for energy technicians.

"Fingers crossed for a frigid winter," Zaitsev said. "That may sound odd, but energy technicians and miners alike are hoping for a cold winter. Freezing weather should demonstrate that the decisions made and agreements signed by officials don't take reality into account. A cold winter would prove that the power plants need to operate, and that we have to supply ourselves with electricity."

According to the head of the trade union, some 800 Eesti Energia employees lost their jobs in the oil shale energy crisis earlier this year.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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