After EU’s Decision, Uljanik Workers Delay Planned Strike

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, January 23, 2018 – Following a decision by the European Commission to approve government guarantees in the amount of 96 million euro for the financial consolidation of the Pula-based Uljanik shipyard, the shipyard’s workers on Tuesday morning put their plan to go on a strike on hold.

This was confirmed to Hina by the regional commissioner of the national metal workers union (SMH) and striking committee spokesman, Đino Šverko, after a meeting of the striking committee early on Tuesday morning.

“The striking committee has not been dissolved and will meet again on Friday to discuss the situation. We have to wait for 48 hours, which the Uljanik management has said is the period necessary to pay workers’ wages for December. If the wages are not paid and if the management does not include in this process workers of TESU, which became a part of the Uljanik Group in September 2017 and to whom Uljanik owes 2.7 salaries, we will launch a strike,” Šverko said, adding that the workers also expected to be paid Christmas bonuses by Friday.

Reacting to the European Commission’s decision, Economy Minister Martina Dalić said on Monday evening that the decision was a stopgap, calling for restructuring of the Pula-based dock and finding a strategic partner as soon as possible,

“The decision of the European Commission which we received this afternoon enables the implementation of the government’s decision to grant Uljanik a state guarantee for a 96 euro million loan, and the loan will be used to pay salaries to workers in the coming months and to settle liabilities towards suppliers,” Dalić told reporters after the EC stated that it had cleared rescue aid for Uljanik.

In her comment on the Commission’s decision, Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy was quoted as saying in the EC press release that “the Croatian State guarantee will help the Uljanik shipyard to continue operating and maintain 1,800 jobs, while they work out a sound restructuring strategy to ensure its future. We approved it today. The restructuring plan must return the company to long-term viability without continued public support, to preserve jobs in Istria on a sustainable basis.”

The Croatian minister Dalić has later explained that the dock is supposed to undergo a complex overhaul that will improve its operations. She called on the management and supervisory board of Uljanik to immediately start finalising the restructuring plan and choose a strategic partner.

The minister called on the banks to make sure, in cooperation with Uljanik management, that the loan with state collateral might be paid to the dock as soon as possible so that employees and suppliers might be got paid.

Asked about possible protests of workers and unionists, Dalić said that the decision of the Commission to clear the rescue aid for the dock meant also payment of salaries in the next few months in an orderly manner.

She recalled that the approval of the state guarantee was directly conditioned by obligations to draw up and adopt the restructuring plan in short time.

“The European Commission has found Croatian plans to grant Uljanik shipyard a State guarantee for a 96 million loan euro are in line with EU State aid rules. The measure will allow the company to meet urgent liquidity needs while preparing a restructuring plan, whilst competition distortions are limited,” the Commission says in its press release.

The Commission also recalls that “the measure will enable Uljanik Shipyard to pay wages, suppliers and other urgent liabilities over the next months and prevent it from going out of business, while preparing a restructuring plan.

“The Commission found that the aid is necessary to prevent Uljanik from going out of business immediately and avoid significant job losses. Moreover, the company’s liquidity needs over the next months are based on reasonable assumptions and will be monitored by an independent auditor on the basis of weekly liquidity plans. Finally, Croatia committed to notify a restructuring plan for the company within a maximum of six months.

“The Commission therefore concluded that the measure will help preserving jobs in the region of Adriatic Croatia, where unemployment is significantly higher than the EU average. At the same time, the strict conditions attached to the use of the funds procured through the State guarantee and the short duration of the measure will reduce the distortion of competition potentially triggered by the State support to a minimum,” according to the press release from Brussels.


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