Tikhvin Carriage Works (part of the United Carriage Company group) stopped work in May. We started with a two-week vacation, now the workers are sent on idle until July. The company employs about 7,000 people. Of the numerous divisions, only Titran-Express works, most of the employees stay at home with two-thirds of their salaries saved.
According to the press service of the enterprise, the industrial giant stopped due to a shortage of bearings supplied by an American company:
“Against the background of the revision of the schedule for the supply of railcars, an additional barrier hindering the activities of our production facilities was the objective difficulties with the supply of critical components for bearings, which were produced at the Timken OVK joint venture located on the industrial site,” TVSZ reported, “the American side decided to refuse from supplies and stopped them completely. We interact with federal, regional and regional executive and supervisory authorities, as well as trade union organizations of the plant. Obligations to fulfill contracts and fulfill the production plan remain with us, so today the priority is to preserve jobs, staff and socio-economic stability in the region”.
Another major employer - IKEA Industry Tikhvin - stopped immediately after IKEA announced the suspension of work in Russia amid events in Ukraine. About 1000 people worked here. They have been sent home, but they have been paid their entire wages until the end of August. In addition, hundreds of people were outsourced: they provided supplies, warehouses, loading, food, etc. Many entrepreneurs and timber suppliers are tied to the plant. These people have not received anything yet.
It was with great difficulty that Novye Izvestia managed to talk to the workers of TVSZ. Most of the employees said that they were forbidden to communicate with the press by corporate standards.
“People do not yet understand what will happen next, and they are afraid of everything,” the source in Tikhvin said, “they are afraid of being fired. Even before the downtime at the plant, they tightened the requirements, walked around the shops with a camera, were caught without a mask or in a smoking room at an odd hour - dismissal. Now the workers are being told that from July 1, the plant seems to be resuming production, they said: get ready. Therefore, no one wants to be fired. Everyone understands that if work resumes, then there will be plenty of people who want to work on it. While people are at home, someone is engaged in vegetable gardens, someone is looking for a part-time job: mow the grass, chop firewood. One even posted an ad: he offers motorcycle taxi services.”
According to another local resident, Tikhvin was already experiencing the collapse of a city-forming enterprise. Previously, a branch of the Kirovets plant was located on the industrial site; tractors were produced here. In better years, the number of employees reached 22 thousand, and the population of Tikhvin - up to 70 thousand people.
“When the plant went bankrupt, a lot of people dispersed throughout the country,” says the source, “many went to Vologda and Cherepovets, where there were industrial enterprises. If something happens to TVSZ now, Tikhvin will be empty again. Many employees of the plant are not local, if there is no work, they will disperse. But for now, we are in the summer season. Probably 80% of the townspeople have a plot. Everything is there. Therefore, the city still lives quietly and calmly. That's what will happen in the fall - no one knows. A person will come from the dacha, but there is no work.
The situation at the IKEA plant looks a little better. The workers are provided until the end of August, they received 100% of their wages. But there is also little clarity. The employee is discussing two options: the resumption of work of the Swedish company, which has not fired anyone yet, or the sale of production to Russian businessmen. IKEA has two more woodworking factories in Russia, the same as in Tikhvin: in Veliky Novgorod and Vyatka.
The organizer of the timber industry trade union, Alexander Illarionov, told Novye Izvestia that IKEA has taken a wait-and-see attitude:
“The company has partially launched its activities, opened return centers. Store employees are all at their jobs, but there are no buyers, in Tikhvin, employees have been sent home, but remain in touch, ”he said. - In general, Ikea is in a better position than other transnational corporations. Here they have no competitors, they are monopolists and Russia occupies a significant share in the profits of the entire company. When the shops were open, it was as crowded as the subway. They obviously don't want to lose their profitable business in Russia. As for the trade union, it conducts explanatory work, even in the event of a change of ownership, it is better for people to be organized in order to represent their interests. Negotiations are underway in Tikhvin, and so far no one is openly talking about a change in ownership.”
According to Alexander Illarionov, if both enterprises in Tikhvin do not resume work, it will be a shock not only for the city, but also for neighboring Boksitogorsk and Pikalevo.
“TVSZ and Ikea have always been in some kind of competition for personnel, employees moved back and forth,” the expert says. - A significant number of workers are not from Tikhvin, people were attracted from all over the country. And if the factories do not work, this can cause an outflow of the population. This will solve the problem of renting apartments, which many indigenous Tikhvinians lived on. Small business, food, entertainment, and a decrease in business activity will go down. During the pandemic, Ikea in Tikhvin was included in the register of strategic enterprises. This is one of the serious taxpayers, if the wagon plant does not go, it will have serious consequences.”
At the end of last week, the city authorities gathered local journalists to report on the situation at the enterprises.
“I hope that the management of the enterprises will resolve all these issues and there will be no global shocks, as happened in 2020, when about 2,000 workers were released after optimization at the enterprises of the industrial site. For us, car building plants are jobs for Tikhvin residents, this is social stability, these are taxes to the local budget, - the Divya newspaper quotes Yury Naumov, head of the administration of the Tikhvin region. - There will be no revenues to the budget, we will have to reduce costs. The number of vacancies announced to the Tikhvin Employment Center is decreasing at the enterprises of the industrial site, they have abandoned shift workers, and almost 2,000 people have been involved.
But so far, local authorities have not announced plans for what they will do if the situation goes according to a negative scenario and the city has received several thousand unemployed at a time. As Novye Izvestia was informed by the press service of the district administration, this issue will be discussed at the employment commission.