Kire Lazaroski and his wife Ruza live in Kicevo, a small ethnically mixed town in Western Macedonia. During socialist times, Kire was a technical manager at the "Tane Caleski" metal factory, employing 600 people at the time. The family looks back to this time with nostalgia. It was a period of increasing living standards, safe jobs and regular annual family holidays at Lake Ohrid in the company-owned hotel with direct beach access.
Like for many ethnic Macedonians in Kicevo and throughout Macedonia, the economic situation of the Lazaroski's has changed for the worse. After the fall of communism, "Tane Caleski" lost its markets in the east and could not compete with its products on Western markets. The company had to shed workers and after repeated privatisation attempts went finally bankrupt.
At a certain point in the 1990s both Kire and Ruza had lost their jobs, while they had to raise their two sons. Ruza Lazarovski remembers:
"It was difficult, we were both unemployed, but we had to facilitate education for our children… It started 1994, first there were some dismissals, then we had the optional choice to leave the factory for a 24 month-salary severance pay."
The family had to struggle to survive. The time of holidays at Lake Ohrid are long gone.
Since 2007, "Tane Caleski" tries a new start under the new name "Metallica Innen", with 60 workers at old Soviet Machines from the 1950s and almost without any assets. Lazarovski is one of the lucky ones who were hired. But this time he is a simple worker.
"I feel comfortable because we receive our salary regularly, we trust our leadership and we believe in our success."
"Thanks God we receive our salaries in time. I earn about 150, which is not good, but o.k. for our standards. We will have to do additional work, to survive."