Helsinki (04.11.2015 - Heikki Jokinen) Finland will lose one of its national industrial icons. The Fiskars Corporation has decided to close down the Arabia ceramics factory in Helsinki. It has been producing tableware since 1873 and its products are widely recognised as key works of Finnish design.
According to Fiskars, it intends to ”transfer the manufacturing operations from the Helsinki ceramics factory to a partner network outside Finland” in March next year. 120 out of the 130 people working at the factory are set to lose their jobs.
”Product development, portfolio management as well as design and brand related decisions will continue to be made in Finland”, says Fiskars. In practical terms this means moving the entire production mainly to Thailand and Romania.
Fiskars Corporation has owned Arabia since 2007 when it bought the glass company Iittala, the then owner of Arabia.
Fiskars is Finland’s oldest company, established in 1649. It's best known product are the orange plastic-handled scissors which went into production in 1967. Since then more than one billion of them have been sold.
Fiskars is not in crisis
Most of the people who are now facing redundancy at Arabia factory are members of the Industrial Union Team. The mandatory consultation with regard to possible personnel cuts began in September.
Team chairperson Heli Puura said then that Arabia is one the best known Finnish factories and the threat of closure symbolises in many ways the situation of Finnish industry.
In under a decade Finnish industry has lost 100,000 jobs and the glass and ceramics industry has been hit in particular, she says.
Heli Puura also stressed that Fiskars is not a company in crisis. It is known as a consistent payer of good dividends.
“For industrial companies like Fiskars Finnish employment or production in Finland seems not to be important. The actions of these companies shows once again that capital has no fatherland”, chairperson Puura said.
Trade Union Pro also has some members at the Arabia factory. “We do not know yet whether the machines are to be dismantled and taken to some other countries”, says the Pro shop steward Jukka Kallio.
Part of Iittala’s production was already being manufactured abroad, in places like Thailand and Indonesia. Due to this 73 employees were laid off in 2011 and a further 41 employees lost their jobs in 2013 at the Arabia factory.