In Ujar, a district in central Azerbaijan, 200 employees report getting laid off from their jobs at a local branch of MKT Istehsalat Kommersiya LLC, one of the country’s leading cotton manufacturing companies. Staff expect the factory close on 1 March, but company representatives deny the branch is going to shut down.
Employees Meydan TV spoke to say they received an official notice from the deputy director of MKT Istehsalat Kommersiya LLC, Rovshan Hasanov, on 25 January. Despite the announcement, the management of the Ujar branch reassured the workers that the company would continue to operate – until they reportedly informed staff a few days later they would shut down on 1 March.
Locals say the looming unemployment endangers their livelihoods, as many get their only source of income from working in the factory. They worry about how to provide for their families once the factory closes, as work opportunities in the area are sparse.
Employees reported that their salaries, even though small and barely enough to make ends meet, ranging from 260 manat to 350 manat, still sustained them from one month to the next. Without this income, they fear not being able to pay for food, clothes and utilities or to pay off their debts.
Some hope the decision to close the factory could still be revoked.
“There is no reason to close the factory. At a time when the cotton industry is being rapidly developed on special orders of the presidents, they are suddenly shutting [the factory] down, leaving 200 hardworking staff members breadless”, an employee says.
Sevda Yolchuyeva, a secretary, has been working at the factory for four years. She has no hope for finding new employment.
“Where should I go, who should I turn to? There is no other job in Ujar. There are no jobs for us to go and work, even for 100-150 manats so that we could at least buy bread and pay utility bills”, she worries.
Another staff member, Agadadash Agalarov, is not optimistic about the future either.
“What will I do? Good or bad, my salary was 260 manats. It somehow kept us going. What will I do now if I don’t have even that? There are no jobs in the district. I don’t believe that I can find a job anywhere else now. Even though we are villagers, we don’t own land. We can’t grow any crops, nor do we have cattle. If the factory shuts down, how will we make a living? It is going to be difficult”, he says
It was officially established in 1995 and is believed to be linked to government officials. A March 2018 Meydan TV investigation identified Gilan Holding, co-owned by Minister of Emergency Situations Kamaladdin Heydarov, and the daughters of President Aliyev, Leyla and Arzu Aliyeva, as one of the shareholders.
When Meydan TV contacted a representative of the company for comment, they said that while “staff may have heard something and grown
suspicious”, no official or unofficial decision to shut down the branch
in Ujar had been taken