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People Refuse to Work in Former USSR Plant Due to Low Wages

During the former Soviet Union, workers of the biggest plant in Central Asia, Vakhsh Nitrogen Nertilizer Plant, got the highest wages. Nowadays the average wage is 200-300 somoni (50$) per month, which isn’t enough for anything in today’s life. The plant provided such opportunities in the USSR: a free pass for dinner, all dairy products, two free kindergartens for worker’s children, and vouchers; but nowadays there isn’t even one of those opportunities.

I interviewed one of the plant’s workers. He said that this month some of the workers got only 150 somoni (30$) for 24 hours of work. All workers were dissatisfied with such a low salary. Also on the day I was there, two specialists resigned in protest. We must encourage the young specialists because if it continues we’ll lose all our specialists. But nowadays, even some of the workers who have been working at the plant their entire lives are ready to leave it any time because of the lower wages.

Vakhsh Nitrogen Fertilizer Plant was founded in 1964. It was one of the most successful plants, not only in Tajikistan, but in all of the 16 countries of the USSR. The plant is in Sarband town (formerly Kalininabod).The plant works by a natural gas imported from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Nowadays Tajik Gas Company buys the natural gas at a high price for $140 per cubic meter. Currently Uzbekistan doesn’t give the natural gas to Tajikistan; that’s why for two years Tajik Gas Company was losing some hundred dollars. The plant works on four personal shifts. During the Soviet time there were 8 hours in the working day and folks worked in three shifts. Today the working day is 12 hours with fewer shifts. In Soviet time the plant produced about 12 products: carbonic gas oxygen (ammonia) and others. Before it was working 24 hours per day, but now it works only 9 hours, because sometimes there isn’t enough natural gas for production. 25 years ago the plant had 1200 workers, now there are 600-700 employees.

Our Government has to take certain measures and make the plant work and produce agricultural fertilizers, because this plant has a huge economic value.


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