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Rapala halts fishing gear production in Finland after more than 80 years

Rapala, one of the world's top fishing lure manufacturers, is moving production to Estonia.

A Rapala fishing lure, file photo. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP
Yle News

Finnish fishing equipment maker Rapala is ending the production of its lures and knives in Finland, and moving production of those items to Pärnu, Estonia.

Following the conclusion of negotiations, employees at the firm's facility in Vääksy, Päijät-Häme, were told on Monday that the moving plans — initially announced in October — were going ahead.

Work by around 50 white-collar employees will continue at the Vääksy facility in southern Finland, but the move to Estonia will lead to job losses or changes in employment terms for 53 workers at the plant by the end of next year.

The company was founded in 1936 by Lauri Rapala, who is credited with creating the world's first floating minnow lure. Rapala is one of the world's biggest fishing lure manufacturers, with sales in 140 countries and a US subsidiary based in Minnesota.

Aside from fishing lures and other gear, the facility also manufactures Marttiini-branded knives. The company also makes outdoor clothing and other gear.

The change will mean layoffs for 44 people, according to Rapala's and Marttiini's chief shop steward, Hannu Kolehmainen.

However, Rapala's general counsel, Olli Aho, said the company is also exploring options about transitioning affected employees to its ski product facility in Heinola, about 36 km from Vääksy.

Workers at the facility were not pleased by the news.

Hannu Kolehmainen Image: Janne Nykänen / Yle

"People are completely disappointed with the outcome, depressed. During seven weeks of negotiations, different options were given and this was the final result," Kolehmainen lamented.

As dozens lose their jobs, a decades-old tradition of Finnish fishing lure manufacturing is also coming to a close. Some employees have been working at the facility for 40 years.

"This is really shocking. This has always been one of [the Asikkala municipality's] biggest employers, little by little it got smaller and smaller, and now it is getting considerably smaller," the chief shop steward said.

Employees hoped that the union negotiations would have ended differently.

Juha Kortelainen, 50, has worked at Rapala since he was 16 years old. He said that the atmosphere at the plant will be painful.

"There are catch-phrases like 'we value professionalism and our workforce,' but there's no real value there," Kortelainen said.

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