The uncertainty of a war zone has led companies both large and small to push the pause button on operations in Ukraine. While some are shutting doors indefinitely, others have looked for ways to continue by relocating employees or modifying work schedules and projects. The long-term impact for local and global economies remains unknown.
In the auto industry, Porsche shut down some of its manufacturing lines in Europe due to supply chain disruptions. The change affects the production of models including the 911, 718, Macan, Panamera, Cayenne, and Taycan. The company cited a shortage in wiring harnesses as one of the reasons behind its move, as 7 percent of the world’s auto harnesses are made in Ukraine. Porsche also donated $1.1 million to help refugees and children in Ukraine, and stopped delivering autos to Russia. Audi and BMW also paused production, while Mercedes-Benz reduced its output levels.
Cornelis Fichtner, president of OSP International, LLC, a project management training company in Silverado, California, notes that some of the company’s part-time and fulltime team members reside in Ukraine. “We are offering Ukrainian team members—and others affected—subscription-based counseling services, free of charge,” Fichtner told The Epoch Times. The company is also granting personal time off for employees as needed during the conflict. While some are taking time away, others are looking to carry on, Fichtner added. “Many people want to keep working to get their minds off the conflict.”
Exoft, a software company with headquarters based in Lviv, Ukraine, saw 10 percent of its team relocate to Europe, where they are continuing to work for the firm. “When the war started, we immediately warned our customers about the situation,” Bohuslava Zhyvko, head of marketing at Exoft, told The Epoch Times. “For our employees, new rules were introduced, taking into account the new realities.” The company introduced flexible schedules and announced it was alright to work from anywhere, anytime, with staying safe listed as Rule #1.
Dmytro Serheeiv, a professional tax specialist and co-owner of PDFLiner, which helps U.S. citizens file taxes and fill out other forms, moved to the United States from Ukraine many years ago. About half of his firm’s employees are Ukraine-based and work remotely from Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Odesa.
“Within the first days of the war, my company transferred full monthly salaries and bonus funds to our guys in Ukraine to help them relocate timely and safely,” Serheeiv told The Epoch Times. The company also implemented flexible working hours with a guarantee of full wages and weekly payments during the coming months. “Today all our Ukrainian employees and their families are safe in Poland and receive due help from the local government.”
In terms of land area, Ukraine is the second-largest nation in Europe, placing just above France and well behind Russia, which has an area of more than 6,600,000 square miles, compared to Ukraine’s 233,000 square miles. Often called the “breadbasket of Europe,” around 32 million hectares of Ukraine’s land is typically used every year for growing crops. Its main exports are corn, seed oils, iron ore, and wheat. It produces 18 percent of the world’s sunflower seed and cottonseed oils, along with 13 percent of the worlds corn, 12 percent of its barley consumption, and 8 percent of the world’s wheat. In 2020, Ukraine was the world’s biggest exporter of seed oils.
The ongoing conflict calls into questions related to this year’s production levels, as it is not clear if it will be possible to harvest crops that are currently growing. Uncertainty surrounds the coming growing season too, as upcoming production will depend on whether new crops can be planted and if livestock production can continue. If the war persists and prevents workers from continuing farm operations, regions could suffer food shortages due to supply chain disruptions.
Amid the unrest, wheat prices have risen, though in the future food shortages could be reduced or avoided if farmers in other areas are able to make up for the losses coming from Ukraine and Russia. If wheat exports from Ukraine and Russia drop, operations in other regions of the world that typically produce corn could switch to wheat to increase the supply. Consumers’ choices may shift too, with some opting for lower-priced and more readily available products, such as rice or potatoes.
Verallia, a French glass bottle maker, announced a temporary halt to production at its site in Zorya, Ukraine, to prioritize the wellbeing of its employees and protect the plant.
“We have, for the time being, decided to stop production—in accordance with our crisis plans—in an orderly and controlled manner in order to protect our employees,” General manager Dirk Bissel stated.
Verallia produces glass packaging for food and beverage items and has 32 glass plants in 11 countries. Another glass manufacturer, Vetropack, had its plant severely damaged by military activity in early March. No employees were injured; the plant closed indefinitely.