By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Araratcement plant workers in the Ararat region of Armenia staged a protest action and blocked the road leading to the enterprise on April 15.
The reason for the action is the upcoming massive reductions in employees. People demand a meeting with the owner of the plant, the leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party Gagik Tsarukyan.
One of the workers of the plant noted that in two months about 1,200 people would be on the street. Appropriate notifications have already been sent to them.
He stated that the company’s management notified the workers that in two months everyone would remain unemployed.
He also added that if earlier cement was produced from local raw materials - travertine, now raw materials will be imported from abroad.
“The production process is shrinking, people are leaving work. If Araratcement closes, then a significant part of Ararat residents will end up on the street,” said the worker.
At the moment, the management of the enterprise and the owner have not yet met with the protesters.
In turn, Tsarukyan told reporters that the problems of the Araratcement plant are associated with the high cost of raw materials - clinker, adding that it is the most expensive component in the production of cement.
He noted that cement production in Armenia is associated with high costs primarily due to the fact that the government refuses to increase customs duties on clinker import.
“As a result, the production of local raw materials, from which cement is produced, becomes unprofitable,” said the owner of the plant.
He did not rule out that the refusal to raise duties on clinker is connected with the personal interests of a certain circle of people.
Tsarukyan said that earlier the plant decided to reduce the price of cement per ton from 50,000 drams (more than $100) to 40,000, adding that now working at this price is unprofitable for the enterprise.
“So, several hundred employees of the plant may remain without work, since Araratcement will be forced to buy cheaper raw materials from abroad in order to withstand competition in the market,” official concluded.
Earlier, Armenian police uncovered facts of abuse at Araratcement company. In particular, the firm avoided paying taxes and was engaged in kickbacks, causing damage to the state in the amount of 269 million drams ($560,000).
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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