Impending shutdown has severe impact on Salo
“This is where it all began, but hopefully it will not end, at least with respect to product development”, says Aimo Leskelä, who has been the shop steward of product development at the Nokia factory in Salo for the past 20 years.
“Shutting down production at the Salo factory has a great symbolic significance for residents of Salo as well as for Finns”, Leskelä says.
He says that his mobile phone was ringing non-stop on Wednesday evening.
Most of the employees walking out of the main gate of the factory refused to say anything to journalists standing there with microphones extended.
In the afternoon, engineer Jani Tuomela rode out of the main gate on his bicycle.
“It is unfortunate that Nokia is leaving Salo. It is here that the first telephones were assembled.”
Tuomela, who has worked in product development since 2003, does not make any predictions on what will happen to R&D. However, he is optimistic about his own future.
“There will always be work for people who do things.”
Leskelä says that it now seems that all 1,800 product development employees will keep their jobs in Salo. However, the job cuts that have been announced are set to raise unemployment in Salo to about 20 per cent.
Project worker Pirjo Batalha is not bitter as she walks into the factory area.
“I have been at work here for more than 20 years and I have always been loyal and grateful for my job.”
“This isn’t Nokia’s fault – it’s about the situation on the world market. It could just as well have been any other company”, Batalha says.
The announcement of the job cuts and of the end of production at the Salo factory was made by President and CEO Stephen Elop by live video link relayed from Espoo to Salo at 10:00 Thursday morning. Leskelä anticipated bad news when the invitation to the event came.
“I kind of knew what to expect, as this kind of bad news comes from Nokia at an information event. There is no trust in the company, as things are not announced earlier”, Leskelä says.
Leskelä feels that Nokia’s future now depends on how the Windows phones will succeed.
“Sales of Windows phones have been growing monthly, but growth has not been as strong as expected”, Leskelä says.
Salo will continue keep product development of Windows handsets in the future as well. Leskelä says that programming for Lumia phones that are manufactured in Asia is still being tailored in Salo.
In addition to Salo, similar programming work is done in Hungary.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Nokia eliminating up to 10,000 jobs in cost-cutting move (14.6.2012)
Up to 1,000 jobs to go from Nokia factory in Salo (8.2.2012)
Elimination of 60% of jobs at Nokia factory has severe implications for Salo economy (9.2.2012)