Yerevan clock factory

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The Yerevan clock factory produced clocks under the names Sevani and Nairi.

The decision to build a watch factory in the Armenian capital was made in 1945. In the 1950s the plant started production. The enterprise became the largest producer of alarm clocks in the USSR. The "Sevani" and "ECHZ", for export alarms are supplied under the brand name "Erevan".

"(dated 1998) The Yerevan Clock Factory (YCF) was founded in 1943 and privatized in 1995. The company produces mechanical and quartz clocks. Its capacity is 2.5 million watches annually. YCF used to export its products to 82 countries, including Germany, Italy, Greece, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the company lost access to its former distribution channels resulting in a sharp decline in production volume and sales. Currently, YCF exports its products to Russia, Ukraine and other CIS countries. YCF owns 322,000 sq.ft. of production space, 38,000 sq.ft. of warehouse space, and 16,100 sq.ft. of office space. The company's offices are located in downtown Yerevan. It employs 450 people"

Interview of Emma Zakaryan, former YCF employee

Interviewed by Narine Tatevosian

Time Flies in a Clock Factory

For my interview, I chose to learn about the work my grandmother did in a clock/ watch factory. My grandmother’s name is Emma Zakaryan. She spent almost all of her life in Armenia , facing the harsh conditions of providing everything for her family all by herself. Years later, my family was finally able to bring her to the United States where she can be supported by the rest of her family.

My name is Emma Zakaryan, I am seventy one years old. I worked in a clock factory in Yerevan , Armenia . I was about thirty five years old at the time I worked. It was my choice to work. It was a clean factory. I worked with a variety of small alarm clock. There were three stories and many different rooms. In each room there were different types of work. The factory was a gray, isolated building with huge front doors.

We worked with a conveyor belt. People sat in two rows on both sides of the machine. For three days, we had to make sure that all the clocks worked, and if they weren’t working properly, we had to send them back to be fixed again. Everything had to be clean. If we knew those clocks were working perfectly, we sent them to be sold. There were a lot of people working there probably one hundred people making two hundred watches. I would work about 8 hours a day. The factory wasn’t far from home, only about three streets away.

We had an advisor who would come tell us how to improve, because everyone does one part of the work and if one person does something wrong, it will affect everyone else. I’ve had experience working in two places. The first were we fixed watches and second where we would wire the watches. We would check that everything was working perfectly. In one room there were a lot of watches we paid attention to. We where busy with those watches for eight hours and there weren’t just one or two of them, there was a lot of watches. There were only about three of us in that room.

All the sections were in one factory, just on different floors. Working with the conveyor belt, we had to work fast so that we wouldn’t skip any watches. If there was a mistake we would help each other and quickly fix it, as a group

In the factory there were a lot of people, mostly in groups, because there were many watches. In the section that my group and I checked the watches for the final, time there were just three of us. Time seemed to fly by. It wasn’t very strict, so we stood or sat according to our convenience.

We had a specific time to eat. Our breaks lasted about a half an hour. We timed ourselves, which was a way for us to check if the watches were working thoroughly. If someone needed to go to the restroom when it wasn’t break time, they would tell someone else to watch their position for a quick second because if they just left, it would throw everyone off. We all looked out for each other.

If we were sick, another person would come and take our place for the day. It was essential that someone was there at all times. If it was just one of those days where you went to work, then started to feel bad, your co workers would help you out.

I’ve never had any injuries working there because I just worked with small watches and alarm clocks. How could someone hurt themselves? The factory was very clean, but my health wasn’t so great. I couldn’t go work in a dirty place and get paid better because I watched my health so I would be one less person to take care of.

As we were waiting for the conveyor belt to rotate, we could sit and talk to each other. We weren’t always busy. The factory was very noisy. Sounds of the machinery bothered us sometimes, but when we were talking to each other, it wasn’t too noticeable.

Men and women worked together equally. They could work in any section. The only thing required was hand eye coordination. Sometimes two people would work on the same watch.

A typical day would be waking up in the morning, packing lunch and rushing out of the house. I was friends with my coworkers and we would share food. I would take food for my friends one day and another day they would do the same for me. During lunch, we would talk about family, friends, or just something that happened at home because mostly during the work hours it wasn’t always convenient to sit and talk. We were loving people so our work wouldn’t bother us. They would sometimes give us raises and promotions for working very well.

It was pretty easy to get a job there because they need a lot of people to work in a factory. I never worked on the heavy business because I knew after a long day at work, I had to go home to a family and face the worries of doing the housework too. There have been a few times that they called us in for work on Saturdays, but never on Sundays.

My husband was in the hospital at the time so I had to take care of the entire family myself. I have thirty years of experience with work. I had four children that I had to send to school and college. It was very difficult.

I got paid about seventy to eighty “dram” a week. That’s about two American dollars. With just a typical factory salary, no one could afford to live. I worked in two or three jobs at once to be able to provide for my family. We bought enough to just survive, and things like buying new clothes were out of the question. I provided for four children a sick husband and a mother in law. My mother in law received about twenty dram for being a senior citizen but that was worth almost nothing. Back then the dram had more value but now it has almost no value because of inflation

If I had the ability to work, I would work there now. Who wouldn’t want to make money and take it home to their family? What’s better then having money? If you have money you will live a good life. I never liked working. I did it mostly for the money just so that my children would have shelter and food on the table.


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