Plant bakery has been closed down in Volsk

2021-07-12

28 people have lost their jobs

In the city of Volsk, Saratov region, a plant bakery and its retail outlet ceased operations, the portal “Volsk.ru” reports. 28 people were left out of work. At first, the employees of the plant submitted payless vacation requests, and then they were pressured into “negotiated resignation”.

“As far as I know, the plant bakery was shut down due to losses and debts, including for utility bills,” the head of the district state administration, Vitaly Matveev, showed awareness of the issue.

The owner of the plant, a resident of Moscow, who has not been named, did not even bother to give the local employment service a heads-up beforehand about the upcoming dismissal of their employees. And why should he be interested in the problems of these 28 Volsk residents? Now they don’t even work for him anymore.

Two years ago, the newly-made CEO of Volskhleb LLC, Valery Mortsev, talking about the adverse financial condition of the company, complained about the debts for utilities, having a hard time working with retail chains, outdated capital equipment and vehicles, the reluctance of young people to apply for the job at the plant bakery and many other problems … But he looked ahead with optimism though. His confidence was based on the fact that “there was someone who’d invested heavily in the plant.” That only meant, “to put it in Russian”, that all the plant’s shares that previously workers had were bought up by a certain businessman. In the view of the CEO, “they could envision the development strategy of the plant” and “they would breathe new life into the plant bakery“.

Here is what he said in July 2019: “All that matters for us now is to maintain the production facilities that we have and, of course, to save jobs and retain all the staff

In an attempt to retain employees, the new owners of the plant bakery even agreed to increase wages of some categories of workers:

In July, we’re planning a pay rise by 5-8 percent for workers employed in the main production. I believe that a baker who works the night shift cannot get a wage that does not exceed the minimum wage. And we can offer decent pay when production increases and sales are growing as well. That is the key focus of our work“.

Just three months later, it became clear what the core of the “development strategy” was: a dozen employees were laid off. The reason for the downsizing was “equipment improvement”:

  • replacement of windows;
  • purchase of new equipment and software;
  • refitting motor vehicles equipped with gas fuel systems into natural gas.

At least, this is the way V. Mortsev sees what the “equipment improvement” is like. Replacing windows in exchange for laying ten people off, the CEO was apparently fulfilling the task of retaining employees.

And young professionals did not show up, although they were enticed by monthly pay about 25 thousand rubles given an average pay for the plant workers as much as “more than 14 thousand rubles.”

In short, the “respected executive” doesn’t always mean what he says.

And what about the plant bakery’s personnel? Did they try to fight for higher wages? Were they outraged by the dismissal of their coworkers? Did they organize themselves into a union, or did they turn to other workers in Volsk for help? Unfortunately, we could not find any information on the protest actions in Volsk at that point in time. Probably, the plant was “given up without a fight”. One is left with the impression that the bakers working just for a penny were willing to put it up with all this any longer and hoping for a miracle. But let’s not lay the blame on them for their lack of will and political apathy. Most of the plant’s employees are of retirement and pre-retirement age. And nowadays even young and active (in words) workers often show their unwillingness to put pressure and demand provision of their rights from employers.

Let’s take a look at the situation from the other side. Was there a chance to save the plant? Basically, this could hardly have happened. Neither keeping the shares in the hands of the workers, nor the arrival of an “honest and just owner”, nor even a one-time writing-off of debts on the “utility services” would not radically have changed the situation. The best-case scenario would be, the bakery’s bankruptcy would have been delayed for some more time. But the market economy would inevitably do the job: the weak and the poor always get out of the way of the strong and the rich. In our case, large manufacturers and retail chains “cleared the way” that is the bakery market of Volsk from a small unprofitable plant.

But you can’t sit back and wait either. All the workers need to unionize, establish contacts with their comrades from other organizations, provide support for each other in word and deed, put forward demands to the companies’ owners and not to trust the promises of a “better life coming soon.” And the working people need to unite in a timely manner, that is, to do it right now. Otherwise, it may happen that tomorrow there will be no one to demand your rights from.