The seafood company HB Grandi announced yesterday that all its workers in demersal fish processing in Akranes, West Iceland, will be laid off as of September 1. Eighty-six workers will be laid off, RÚV reports. In March, the company revealed its decision to discontinue processing demersal fish in the town, citing a lack of harbor facilities and processing facilities to process all the catch from HB Grandi’s wet fish trawler. The plan is to merge the Akranes demersal fish processing with the one in Reykjavík.
HB Grandi plans to offer the laid-off workers a chance to apply for other jobs at the company, mostly in Reykjavík, and hopes to be able to offer all those who do apply a suitable job.
Reaction to the decision was very negative in Akranes, and some workers abruptly left the meeting where HB Grandi CEO Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson made the announcement.
Workers interviewed by RÚV were not happy about the prospect of being offered to apply for a job in Reykjavík, which is at a 42 km (26 mi) distance.
“This is very sad news for us, the people of Akranes,” Vilhjálmur Birgisson, head of the Akranes Union, told RÚV, “and that’s putting it mildly.” He noted that most of the jobs being offered instead will be in Reykjavík and continued, “When you talk to the people, there are many women who have children in preschool and in school. This will just be extremely difficult.”
HB Grandi will continue other parts of its operation in Akranes—pelagic fish processing, a fish meal plant and two subsidiaries. According to a press release, there are plans to further strengthen those parts of the operation.