Bakkafrost job cuts: “atmosphere like a funeral”

09.11.2023 - 05:57
Bakkafrost job cuts: “atmosphere like a funeral”
A psychologist and a vicar were present yesterday when Bakkafrost staff were briefed about mass layoffs
Gemma Johannesen from the Philippines pictured outside her soon-to-be former workplace

Fish farming firm Bakkafrost announced on Tuesday that it will let go of 140 employees on 1 January.

The layoffs had been in the air for some time after the government introduced special extra taxes on fish farmers.

Yesterday at 1pm, the soon-to-be former employees gathered at the company’s Glyvrar headquarters for a briefing session.

The atmosphere in the room was heavy with emotion as the workers listened to the details of their redundancy.

Trade union reps were present to ensure everything was conducted fairly and transparently.

Bakkafrost, Bakkafrost og integratión

The 140 affected workers are roughly half-and-half Faroese citizens and foreign nationals. Archive photo

Representatives from the Immigration Office, unemployment office ALS and tax authority TAKS advised the affected workers on practical matters.

A psychologist and a priest were also on hand for those who felt a need for emotional support and guidance.

One of the affected workers is Gemma Johannesen from the Philippines:

“It’s sad, but we have to accept it. We are most worried about our relatives who are under the working visa because they are the ones who will be greatly affected,” she said after the briefing.

“For me, I think I will find another job. I will start to look at other fish factories or some cleaning jobs.”

Stig Lamhauge Davidsen

Stig Lamhauge Davidsen heads Runavík-based trade union Hæddin: “Since this situation is the result of a dispute between Bakkafrost and the government, there isn’t much we can do except try to console our members.”

Kári Egholm Jacobsen, who heads the Bakkafrost specialty production unit, said the atmosphere was akin to a funeral when the redundancy notices were handed out on Tuesday.

“This was a sombre day for all of us. It obviously hurts to let go of 140 highly valued employees,” he said.

“However, these added taxes force us to make these job cuts because otherwise Bakkafrost would encounter massive financial losses. This would go against our duty to our shareholders, our staff and the Faroese economy as a whole.”

He added that as things stand, the laid-off staff members will, at best, be able to return to their jobs in a year’s time.

Trade minister Høgni Hoydal said on Tuesday evening that this is a highly unfortunate situation and that the government is willing to look at possible adjustments to taxes on fish farmers.


Read the Faroese versions of this article here, here and here.

English version by

More Faroese News in English.

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