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Fennovoima lays off 350 workers

Since the company terminated its agreement with Russian state firm Rosatom, work at the construction site in Pyhäjoki has ground to a halt.

Hanhikiven voimalan rakennustyömaan portti Pyhäjoella
In recent months, only maintenance work has been carried out at the Pyhäjoki nuclear power plant site. Image: Timo Nykyri / Yle
Yle News

Fennovoima will lay off about 350 people, the company announced Wednesday, with the redundancies taking place during the course of the year. The cancelled project was to have been Finland's first entirely new nuclear power plant since the 1970s.

"Most of the employees will be laid off next week, by the end of June," Fennovoima's HR director Eija Salo explained to Yle.

At the beginning of 2023, the company will have less than 10 employees.

Fennovoima began its negotiations with its employees in accordance with the Co-operation Act in May, when the company terminated its Rosatom agreement following the Russian attack on Ukraine. Fennovoima will drastically reduce its operations as a result of the negotiations.

Only preliminary infrastructure work had been done on the site; the plant never received a construction permit.

"We all came to Fennovoima to build the Hanhikivi 1 project and construct a nuclear power plant that would be in Finland's general interest. The fact that we had to end the project was inevitable and I know this decision will have an impact on all of us. We all feel sad about the end of the project," said Fennovoima CEO Joachim Specht in a press release.

Expert employment a future concern

Fennovoima has employed a total of about 450 people. During the busiest times, several hundred employees were working on the Hanhikivi 1 project in Pyhäjoki.

Fennovoima has shifted its focus to maintenance of the site as its construction work has halted.

Esa Herrala, Fennovoima's shop steward in Pyhäjoki, said there were about 70-80 employees in Pyhäjoki, mostly from the area between Raahe and Kalajoki. There have also been a large number of foreign workers.

"Yes, my heart is especially close to them and their families. Hopefully they will find jobs in the surrounding areas and in Finland, because this project attracted top experts in the nuclear industry. I hope that the demand for nuclear workers will be focused here, and that these top experts will find employment in Finland and stay here with their families," Herrala told Yle.

According to Mari Tuomikoski, Service Director of the North Ostrobothnia Employment and Economic Development Office, there is now demand in the labour market for these individuals.

"Fortunately, there is a situation at the moment where employers are hiring and there are plenty of jobs available in our region. In that sense, the situation could be worse," Tuomikoski said to Yle.

As many of the former Fennovoima employees turn to new employment opportunities, it remains difficult for the large proportion of employees with foreign backgrounds to find work. Language proficiency requirements have proven to be a barrier for many of these foreign workers, many of them top nuclear experts.

14.54: Clarified that the plant never received a construction permit.

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