As many as 10,000 jobs could be in jeopardy.
“Problems began during the summer. They are now three months late with payments, which represents a major threat to our business. We are still able to pay salaries to our employees on time, but I am afraid how this will all end.” This is how one of many subcontractors of “Uljanik” shipyard from Pula and “Treći Maj” from Rijeka describes the problems he has been facing in recent months, reports Jutarnji List on November 10, 2017.
In recent days, many have started comparing the situation in Croatian shipyards with Agrokor. It all began when MOST’s Member of Parliament Ines Strenja-Linić said earlier this week that the Uljanik Group was in trouble. “There is a suspicion that business operations of Uljanik Group are based on similar patterns as in Agrokor. This is demonstrated by the unusual situation that, at the end of the first half of this year, ‘Treći Maj’ shipyard owed to its suppliers and subcontractors more than 150 million kunas,” said Strenja-Linić, warning that almost 10,000 jobs in the two northern Adriatic shipyards and subcontracting companies were in danger.
Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Martina Dalić replied that her ministry had requested the implementation of supervision measures at Treći Maj, with the aim of determining the flow of money and the use of state subsidies. Also, Uljanik was warned to reduce debts to suppliers. Dalić added that Treći Maj, Brodosplit and Brodotrogir were part of the restructuring programme started in 2012, which was one of Croatia’s obligations towards the European Union.
Four years after entering the EU, the Croatian shipbuilding industry is still facing numerous problems, which is also confirmed by the unofficial information that a meeting between the representatives of trade unions, shipyards’ management and government representatives will take place next Thursday.
“The problem with liquidity does exist, and that is the greatest problem for subcontractors,” said one source. “This is actually ‘a mini Agrokor’. Uljanik and Treći Maj have debts to subcontractors and suppliers, which causes further problems for their business partners and employees. They first repaid obligations to suppliers, many of whom had already stopped delivering their products to shipyards, but now the shipyards no longer have enough money for subcontractors. Although it is true that shipyards are private companies, the government should see what is happening and take action,” said the source.
Uljanik did not want to comment on the issue yesterday, adding that all the information on the business results of the group are known to relevant ministries, adding that Treći Maj’s restructuring programme would soon be concluded.
The Uljanik shipyard is the only Croatian shipyard which has not undergone the restructuring process. The Uljanik Group has taken over the responsibility for the restructuring of Treći Maj, which would otherwise be liquidated, and Treći Maj is now a member of the Uljanik Group.
The company also warned that the situation in the global shipbuilding industry with regards to standard ships has been unfavourable over the past few years, which has consequences for the terms and conditions of contracting and operations of all shipyards in Europe.
On the other hand, the Brodosplit shipyard from Split announced that the company was fulfilling all its financial obligations towards the subcontractors and suppliers on time and that there are no delays.
Translated from Jutarnji List.