ZAGREB, December 21, 2018 – The news that production at the Sisak oil refinery will be closed, although expected, disquieted workers on Thursday, and their spokesman Predrag Sekulić said they were “confused by the absence of a clear reaction from the government.”
The arguments given by the INA oil company in favour of discontinuing production at Sisak are unconvincing and unilateral, he said, adding that workers are not surprised by the news.
“This is just a confirmation of our claim that the acquisition of INA by the Hungarian energy group MOL was a hostile takeover. We, however, are confused by the absence of a clear reaction from the government, whose representatives have said several times that they will push for the continuation of production and survival of the Sisak refinery,” Sekulić told Hina.
He said that the union and workers were meeting on Friday to discuss their further steps.
INA announced on Wednesday that it would concentrate its refining business in Rijeka, while the Sisak refinery would be converted into an industrial centre focusing on other activities.
If the Sisak refinery is shut down, it will lead to further emigration and dying out of the local economy and other sectors, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said in Varaždin on Thursday.
Asked if she could join in efforts to deal with the planned closure of the Sisak oil refinery, which could also be seen as a matter of national security, Grabar-Kitarović said that she would become involved, in line with her constitutional powers, because she was not authorised to make any decisions in that regard.
“I will definitely be in talks with both the Croatian and the Hungarian side with a view of keeping the refinery running because those jobs really need to be saved. Otherwise we will face further emigration and dying out of the local economy and other sectors,” she said.
Varaždin County Prefect Radimir Čačić, who met with the president, said that the MOL oil and gas company had been planning for a long time to close down the Sisak oil refinery and that there was a conflict of legitimate Croatian and Hungarian interests in that case.
The Sisak refinery is part of INA, which is owned jointly by the Croatian state and the Hungarian oil and gas group.
“Under the initial agreement, Hungarians could in no way close down the refinery. Moreover, they undertook to upgrade and develop it further. The terms of those initial agreements have evidently been changed and the incumbent government lacks the strength to prevent the closing down of the plants,” Čačić said, adding that the closure of the refinery was more a matter of the loss of a vital type of production than a matter of job loss.
“Most of the workers will probably get decent severance packages, retire or… there will be a switch to alternative production – the processing of the already processed oil products and their storage. The number of workers will not be reduced significantly. This is first and foremost about the loss of strategic production, that’s the problem,” said Čačić.
More news on the INA-MOL case can be found in our Business section.