400 face layoff at Ventspils cannery

Around 400 people in the Western port city of Ventspils will face an uncertain New Year with the announcement Thursday that workers at the town's main cannery face being laid off, reports LSM. 

The Ventspils fish cannery described the measure as "temporary" on Thursday as the business seeks to find new markets in the wake of EU-Russia sanctions that have dramatically reduced demand for its canned fish products.

Around 80 people will remain employed until such time as the situation improves.

According to the company's board of directors, both sanctions and the dramatic decline of the ruble in recent days have hit the business hard as Russia accounts for approximately 70% of the firm's exports

Discussions are ongoing with potential partners in Germany and Japan, but in the meantime the facility will go into economy mode from January.

As recently as September, the company won a gold medal at the "World Food Moscow" trade fair.

Board member Andris Bite said there was "no reason to panic" and assured workers that their jobs would be restored in due time - also but advised them to register with the state unemployment agency. 

News of the layoffs is particularly bad news for the western Kurzeme region with production at the Liepajas Metalurgs steel plant still not underway and a binding deal still not signed with the supposed buyers of the giant concern.

Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs - currently on trial on charges alleging graft on a massive scale - told the LETA news agency that the European Union and United States were to blame for the layoffs for causing a fall in the value of the Russian ruble and that they should pay compensation to the business as a result.

Lembergs is an influential member of the Greens and Farmers Alliance (ZZS) who was intimately involved in recent government formation talks. ZZS currently numbers the Economy, Welfare, Agriculture and Defense Ministries among its cadre in executive power.  


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