The forced shutdown of iron and steelmaking process at Pobuzky Ferronickel Plant resulted in the change of plant’s activities.
The war and economic difficulties, which Ukraine faced, forced us to pay attention to company towns, i.e. settlements where at least 20% of the population work at the city-forming enterprise. Low degree of differentiation in their economy create a high dependence of the population from the plant’s successful operation. As per open data, more than 100 such settlements with about 2 mln. residents exist in the country. For a long time, the wellbeing in such towns and cities has depended on the successful operation of the city-forming enterprise, and its slightest troubles have a negative impact not only on the economic life of such company town, but also on the social situation in the whole region. Settlement of Pobuzke (Kirovohrad region) where around 25% of citizens work at Pobuzky Ferronickel Plant is an example of the company town.
Challenges, which PFP, LLC has faced since the beginning of RF’s aggression against Ukraine, forced both the enterprise’s owners, Solway International Group, and plant’s management itself to change the work direction. Logistics difficulties that caused the reduction in raw materials’ volumes, which are delivered to the enterprise, and also missile strikes over the power systems of Ukraine resulted in the temporary shutdown of iron and steelmaking activities at PFP.
Taking into consideration that the plant is a city-forming enterprise for Pobuzke, this made adjustments in the community’s social development. In other words, according to Viacheslav Kupreniuk, the settlement’s head, PFP ensured up to 73% of income to the community’s budget before the war, and its forced shutdown is a significant stroke: “Unfortunately, we have to suspend implementing full-scale projects on community’s improvements in the future; besides, PFP’s shutdown reduced our abilities in rendering help to those who need it. The plant undergoes difficult times, but they keep helping us. These are gifts for children, portable generators for bomb shelters. Besides, the plant supplies gas and water to the settlement, and carries out the water discharge at their own expenses; they also ensure the needs of both medical and non-scholastic adult education institutions in Pobuzke”.
According to Viacheslav Kupreniuk, the further deterioration in situation at the plant may cause the repeated tragedy of the 90s when the plant in Pobuzke, which did not work because of previous owners’ fault, was the reason of a sharp fall in both the life level and the quality of utility services rendered. All this has resulted in worsening of the demographic situation in the region and in a significant outflow of its residents as well, and only Solway Group, which has worked with PFP for almost 20 years, could improve the situation.
As per Denis Shevchenko, PFP’s General Director, the forced shutdown of the enterprise has still caused the change in the activities. Thus, the plant underwent an optimization in the staffing plan when the employees, which are not involved in iron and steelmaking processes, work at critical infrastructure objects, – in the first turn, at those that provide the plant’s and the settlement’s life. “The forced shutdown of the iron and steelmaking activities is still not a reason to refuse from undertaken social obligations”, – so the General Director is sure. – “The whole personnel from the power shop is responsible for both the water supply and the water discharge. The workplaces of those called to the Armed Forces in Ukraine and women having their childcare leaves will be preserved for them in full. All plant’s services and divisions will remain, though the number of employees will be reduced. This is a forced step, but we make everything for the plant to come back to their full-scale operations, when and if the situation improves”, – Denis Shevchenko summed up.