Factory turns to combat gear to meet demands of war-torn Ukraine
By Luis Ángel Reglero
Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, Jun 10 (EFE).- The war has disrupted everything in Ukraine, including the job market, forcing many to adapt to their new circumstances, like the owners of a garment factory who have turned to producing uniforms, bullet proof vests and combat gear.
Around 90% of the 50 employees of the factory in Kryvyi Rih, in southeastern Ukraine, are women, managers Victoria and Konstyantyr, who prefer not to share their full names, tell Efe.
“Mothers, sisters and wives of soldiers ask what they need on the front line. It’s their relatives who conduct the quality control” of our products, Konstyantyr adds.
Kryvyi Rih, an industrial city with a population of 600,000, is not far from Russian-occupied areas in eastern Ukraine.
The factory regularly sends fabrics to cover trenches and protect weapons and military clothing.
Victoria recalls how before the war they made women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, but they quickly swapped “blouses, skirts, shirts and jackets” for bulletproof vests.
The team sourced a NATO-standard vest and “disassembled it and inspected the inside to see what it consisted of and what accessories were used.”
“We tried to make a similar product and we succeeded,” she says.
The designs are digital, but the preparation is bespoke and some uniforms require up to 92 different pieces which are stitched together on sewing machines in a room buzzing with the rhythmic sound of needles.
“It’s quite difficult to make, it’s almost like a Lego,” Victoria says, smiling.
A JOB IN DIFFICULT TIMES
Coordinator Konstyantyr talks to Efe about the factory’s process as he tackles large rolls of stiff fabric, that are flame resistant and difficult to cut but wash well.
Several patterns are spread out on a long table as employees check each seam.
“They teach each other,” he says of the workers, some of whom have been displaced by the war.
“We do not compare ourselves to professional companies, but we provide high quality.”
According to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), almost five million Ukrainians have lost their jobs since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.
The ILO study warns that almost half of Ukraine’s companies have been forced shut with half of their exports trapped due to blocked ports in the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian economy might contract by 45% this year due to the war, pushing a large segment of its population into poverty, according to the World Bank. EFE