Koch Industries, the parent company of Guardian Glass, is calling for employees to shut down its two glass plants in Russia as a number of factors related to the invasion of Ukraine have made continued operations “untenable.” However, employee safety is a continued concern even with the announcement.

Writing in a news release, Koch Industries’ president and chief operating officer Dave Robertson said Guardian Glass has 600 employees between the two plants in Russia. In April 2022, Robertson wrote the float operations would remain open lest the Russian government take control and benefit from the manufacturing facilities.

The company cited The Wall Street Journal in making its decision, as the publication reportedly wrote the Russian government could use manufacturing facilities for its own benefit. Koch Industries was the only U.S.-based glass company with float operations in Russia.

Koch and Robertson condemned the actions of the Russian government in Ukraine and suspended all new capital investments in Russia, also citing employee safety as a reason for keeping the facilities operational.

The invasion of Ukraine continues to unfold. Sanctions announced in April, along with the Russian government’s response, resulted in a shift in the company’s response to the situation. Those developments, according to Robertson, have made operational conditions “untenable” for the Guardian plants in Russia.

However, concerns expressed by Robertson back in April with respect to a shutdown remain prevalent as of his latest announcement. At the time, Russian authorities threatened criminal prosecution for employees of manufacturing facilities that ceased operations. With Koch’s latest announcement, those threats are being repeated.

“When made aware of this plan, Russian authorities repeated earlier warnings that local Guardian employees would violate Russian law and be prosecuted and imprisoned if they followed through with any shutdown activities, further reinforcing our concerns for employees’ safety,” Robertson wrote.

Guardian is working with its local management team to develop an exit strategy that mitigates both concerns – employee safety and a government takeover of the facilities.

“All other Koch companies, none with operating assets in Russia, have ended or are ending business activities there,” the release continues. “As a company and as individuals, we have consistently condemned Russia’s action and remain united in support of all employees and others who are harmed by this terrible war.”

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