Border town makes best of postaccession opportunities

  • 2004-10-27
  • From wire reports
TALLINN - Since May 1, the Tartu-based clothing manufacturer Sanger has made use of the freer labor flow by hiring 45 new workers for its factory in the Latvian border town of Valga, of whom 30 are Latvian citizens.

According to Leho Haldna, manager of the Valga factory, it was practically impossible to hire Latvian citizens before May 1, but now EU membership makes Valga and the Latvian town of Valka twin cities again.

"Productivity is higher here, and we pay a higher wage," Haldna told the Postimees daily this week.

"A shortage of labor poses a problem for the factory in Tartu, too. We'd hire 10 sewing machine operators immediately," board member Maia Palsi said, admitting that women were no longer willing to work for a monthly wage of 4,500 kroons (287 euros).

Sangar, which opened a new workshop in Valga this summer, plans to raise the average wage to 5,000 kroons a month next year.

The average gross wage of a seamstress in Valga is 4,200 kroons per month, which Estonians consider too small. In Latvia, however, monthly wages in similar enterprises average 2,700 kroons - 3,000 kroons, Haldna said, which draws them to jobs across the border such as those at Sangar.