NARVA - Many residents of Narva are bound to remember May 1, 2004, other than as the day that Estonia became a member of the European Union. For that is the day on which Kreenholm, the town's largest employer, plans to close down its weaving plant and l
Narvans are now asking what the government plans to do about the worsening employment situation in northeast Estonia, and in their city in particular, now that the country is set to become a EU member.
One of the workers who has been working in the weaving plant for 10 years is Natalya Ivanova, a 40-year-old woman who is raising her 15-year-old daughter alone.
Natalya stated that she earned 2,062 kroons (132 euros) a month in the plant, while her monthly bills amounted to more than 800 kroons. She said that without financial help from her brother it would have been very difficult to survive.
Kristina herself is studying German and has made up her mind that after she graduates she will attempt to leave Narva as soon as possible and seek work in Germany.
"Estonia seems to have become small and has no room for Russians," Natalya said.
Another ethnic Russian Narva resident, Ljudmilla Karpinen, said that she had eight years left until pension. "Where should I go?" asked the 51-year-old woman who said that after the death of her husband she was in debt.
Ljudmila said that next year when work in Kreenholm ended she would be evicted from her apartment together with her two daughters, aged 17 and 20.
Ljudmila said that Kreenholm was emotionally important for her since her mother worked there as well.
She said that the only way that she could support herself is to make frequent trips to Russia's Ivangorod on the other side of the Narva River.
"We are not killers," said Tonu Luman, chief executive officer of Kreenholm. He said that putting 400 people on the street was an enormous decision that was not made overnight.
Luman hinted that hopefully local people understood that the decision to cut 400 workers was not made locally, but by the company's owners overseas.
Local trade unions have already organized a protest in front of the Parliament building in Tallinn.