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Salo reeling from Nokia sale; Tampere shop steward fearful

More than 1,000 Nokia employees in Finland’s southwest city of Salo sit in nail-biting suspense for news of what Nokia’s purchase by Microsoft means for their future. Meanwhile a Tampere shop steward says a worst-case scenario is that Microsoft has merely removed a mobile phone competitior from the market.

Nokia Espoon pääkonttorit tiistaiaamuna 3. syyskuuta 2013. Image: Sari Gustafsson / Lehtikuva

Salo mayor Antti Rantakokko said that he first heard of Nokia’s sale to Microsoft from Yle’s local news service in Turku.

“I was completely stunned. I’m afraid of what may happen, but I hope that the company will continue with its phone development operations in Finland,” he said.

“Here in Salo we have more than 1,000 employees working in product development so this is very important to us. Also from the perspective of collecting corporate taxes, this is significant for Salo and for Finland,” Rantakokko added.

“Now we just need to find out what they have planned,” he concluded.

In 2012 the Finnish mobile phone maker announced that it was closing production facilities in Salo, putting nearly 800 workers on the breadline, and prompting the government to declare the city a region undergoing "acute structural adjustment".

Nokia shop steward: worst case is that Microsoft bought a competitor

Meanwhile Kalle Kiili, a union shop steward representing senior level workers at Nokia’s Tampere unit, said that a worst case scenario would be that Microsoft’s own phone technology is far more developed than outwardly apparent and that the US company simply purchased a competitor.

In such a case, there is the possibility that Microsoft could cherry-pick parts of Nokia operations to preserve and coldly eliminate the rest.

“But I think that they want to develop the world’s best mobile phones themselves and that’s why they bought the Nokia operations,” Kiili said.

Kiili said that news of the sale brought mixed emotions.

“On the one hand I feel that we have sold off part of our patrimony,” he said.

“On the other there is a great deal of pressure to make immediate profits or to restructure, and Microsoft has the financial means to invest in product development in Finland,” he pointed out.

The shop steward said that Nokia staff had so far not planned any kind of industrial action or demonstrations in response to news of the deal, but are awaiting more information on the matter.