2.3 The Processing Phase Borne by Women

Home Ondine The Processing Phase Borne by Women

The Hard Work in the Canneries of Izola

In the North-eastern Adriatic region, the first fish processing factories were created by the Bohemian entrepreneur Warhanek, who founded the first one in Duino (Trieste) in 1867.

Later, he also built a plant in Grado (now Italy) and another one in Izola (now Slovenia) in 1882. After the First World War and the passage of the Julian March (Venezia Giulia) to Italy, the Izola factory was taken over by Arrigoni of Trieste. In 1879 and again in Isola, the factory later known as Amplea was founded. The peculiarity of this type of canning manufacturing – the most important examples of which in the North-eastern Adriatic area were the two Izola factories – is the fact that most of the work force is made up of women.

During socialist Yugoslavia, the two factories acquired another important feature: a self-management system was introduced, which replaced production planning. Between the 1950s and 1960s, the factories of Izola became associated with the cannery of Koper De Langade and with the fishermen’s cooperative Riba, which was founded in 1948 during the VUJA administration. In the 1960s, this consortium adopted the name of “Kombinat konzervne industrie Delamaris-Isola” and represented the most important production site in the Yugoslavian fishing industry. It employed about 1,600 workers – mostly women – was able to self-manage production and industrial relations, and exported its products to 25 countries abroad.

Erica Mezzoli
WeCanIt – University of Ljubljana


Processing Fish in a Factory

Video 2.3.a – Bruno Volpi Lisjak talks about the work and the women workers in the fish processing factories of Izola. He also has an important task to entrust us with.
(Interview with Bruno Volpi Lisjak–Križ (Slovenia), 18 September 2021. Interviewer: Erica Mezzoli)


Izola and a Factory

Izola and a cannery
Fig. 2.3.b – One of the stages of fish processing. Izola in the background.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_712-8)



Fishermen repairing the nets in the courtyard of the plants
Fig. 2.3.c – First of all, of course, you have to catch the fish. Fishermen repairing the nets in the courtyard of the plants.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_709-14)



fish processing
Fig. 2.3.d – Then, the fish must be cleaned and prepared for the different processes.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_713-8)



Fig. 2.3.e – Hands at work.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_713-8)


Before Processing

People preparing fish for drying and/or smoking
Fig. 2.3.f – People preparing fish for drying and/or smoking.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_713-8)



Fish drying and/or smoking process
Fig. 2.3.g – Fish drying and/or smoking process.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_712-5)


The Fish Salting Process

Salting is an ancient method of preserving food. The sardines are dry-treated, that is, through the sole use of coarse salt. It is, in fact, strongly recommended that the fish does not come into contact with fresh water, as the latter is the main cause of fish deterioration.

Workers begin to fill the barrels
Fig. 2.3.h.1 – Workers begin to fill the barrels.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_712-5)
Barrels full of sardines and coarse salt
Fig. 2.3.h.2 – Barrels full of sardines and coarse salt.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_709-2)
sardines barrels
Fig. 2.3.h.3 – Finally, a large stone was placed on the barrels to exert pressure on the salting fish.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_713-1)



Manufactoring cans
Fig. 2.3.i – The fish canning factories of Izola also manufactured the tin cans.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_709-7)



cans filles
Fig. 2.3.l – Then the cans were filled.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_709-12)



cans hermetically sealed
Fig. 2.3.m – The cans were hermetically sealed.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_709-5)


The Journey

canned sardines ready to leave the factory and go out
Fig. 2.3.n – Finally, the canned sardines were ready to leave the factory and go out into the world.
(NŠK, Magajna, 1948_711-1)