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, which employed 600 people at the time. The family looks back to this period with nostalgia. It was a time of increasing living standards, safe jobs and regular annual family holidays at the company-owned hotel on the shores of Lake Ohrid.
Like for many ethnic Macedonians in Kicevo and throughout Macedonia, the Lazaroskis’ economic situation has changed for the worse. After the fall of communism, "Tane Caleski" lost its markets in the east and could hardly compete in Western markets. The company had to shed workers. After repeated privatisation attempts it finally went bankrupt.
At a certain point in the 1990s, both Kire and Ruza – who were still raising their two sons – had lost their jobs. Ruza Lazarovski remembers:
"It was difficult; we were both unemployed, but we had to facilitate education for our children… It started in 1994. First there were some dismissals; then we had the choice to leave the factory for a 24 month-salary severance pay."
The family had to struggle to survive. The times of holidays at Lake Ohrid are long gone.
In 2007, "Tane Caleski" tried to get off the ground again – equipped, this time around, with a new name ("Metallica Innen"), virtually no assets, Soviet-made machinery from the 1950s, and a workforce of 60 people. Lazarovski was one of the lucky few who were hired, albeit as a simple worker.
"I feel comfortable because we receive our salary regularly, we trust our leadership, and we believe in our success."
"Thank 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."