Uljanik Shipyard in Crisis

Total Croatia News

The shipyard is the major employer in Istria.

The Uljanik shipyard in Pula is the largest Croatian shipyard, but it could easily go bankrupt if the European Commission does not approve a state guarantee for an emergency rescue loan, reports tportal.hr on January 1 6, 2018.

The chairman of the Croatian Metallurgical Union Vedran Dragičević said that he hoped Brussels would make a decision by the end of the week. “It would be a disaster if the decision would not be made. There are no arguments for it to be negative. Uljanik did not undergo restructuring five years ago with other shipyards. Maybe that was a mistake. When the state decided to save the shipyards, it was necessary to ensure liquidity as well. You need a constant supply of money and loans in order to build ships. In Germany and Italy, there are private agencies in which the state is a co-owner and which provide money to the shipyards,” said Dragičević.

Željko Kardum, an economic analyst with the Croatian Radio Television, said he was surprised by the announcement of the unions that they would organize a strike of Uljanik workers if they did not receive their salaries. He pointed out that workers are also shareholders and hold more than 40 percent of the shares. “They are threatening themselves, at the moment when the whole company is in danger,” said Kardum. Dragičević answered that people should not confuse trade union activities with shareholding.

Tomislav Debeljak, CEO of the DIV Group, which owns the Split shipyard, said it was wrong to point out that Uljanik had a full order book. “The question is what these orders are. Most of these jobs bring losses. When you have positive orders, then you do not need state aid. Brodosplit has only profitable projects. When we took over the Split shipyard, we immediately told the government that we would not build large tankers because they bring loses. Today, we are building cruisers, we have a military programme, and 40 percent of revenues are realized outside the shipbuilding activities,” said Debeljak.

Valter Flego, the Prefect of the Istria County, stressed that everything must be done to save the jobs in Uljanik and its subcontractors. “This is not the time to politicize. We have to save production and exports. In the structure of the Croatian GDP, the tourism industry makes up 24 percent, which is too much. Uljanik has to be restructured,” Flego said.

Former MP Damir Kajin said the restructuring plan sent to Brussels was monstrous as it did not ensure the survival of the shipbuilding activities in Ugljanik. “On the island in the heart of Uljanik, where ships are actually being built, the construction of hotels and a megayacht marina is foreseen. More than 1,600 workers will lose their jobs. Uljanik will not be able to repay the loan within six months as it is claimed in the restructuring plan. This generation of citizens of Pula will see how the mother and father of Istria and Pula dies,” said Kajin.

Translated from tportal.hr.


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