Remaining employees of an idling rubber-producing plant in Yerevan staged a protest outside government offices on Thursday, demanding that they be paid back wages for four months.
Only 260 workers are currently employed at Nairit to maintain the safe operation of its complex facilities. The sprawling Soviet-era plant on the southern outskirts of Yerevan once employed several thousand people, who were laid off in the past several years as the troubled enterprise faced its latest crisis.
Scores of them gathered near the government building in the center of Yerevan in the morning demanding a meeting with the recently appointed minister of natural resources and energy infrastructure.
“The new prime minister says people will live prosperous lives. Is this a life of prosperity? We work for only 80,000 drams (about $165) a month, but we haven’t got our wages for four months,” complained one protester.
“Either they give us our wages or shut the factory,” another angry Nairit worker added.
Minister Ashot Manukian’s aides eventually received a group of protesters. Nairit trade union leader Hrach Tadevosian later told his colleagues that the government was trying to find the money necessary to pay the back wages.
Hundreds of current and former Nairit workers staged protests virtually on a weekly basis for months before the government finally met their demand in August 2015, clearing the backlog of wages accumulated over years after the enterprise got into financial trouble.
Some workers of the idling factory later continued pickets outside government offices, demanding that the authorities find a way to resume the operation of the enterprise.
Karen Karapetian, who was appointed prime minister in September, has made it clear in his several public statements that Nairit can be re-launched only if an investor with a solid business plan is found.