Accessibility links

Breaking News

Slovakia: Company May Strike To Protest Privatization Policy

Bratislava, 4 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - Union officials at Slovakia's shipping company Slovenska Plavba a Pristavy a.s. (SPaP) say they are considering a strike to protest government privatization policy. "We are waiting. We won't wait long," union official Jan Ferencak told RFE/RL yesterday in his office near the Danube.

In March, about 1,300 of SPaP's 1,800 employees banded together to form the Dunajplavba company to try to acquire a majority stake in their company. Shortly thereafter, they contacted Slovakia's National Property Fund (FNM) about their desire to acquire a 51 percent stake in the company.

And, they are still waiting for a response.

In June, there were meetings with officials from Slovakia's Communications, Transport and Public Works ministry about the situation.

Despite losses of close to $8 million last year, union officials, including union chairman Ivan Lehota, say an employee-held company would be a better run company. "We'd abolish losses and get this company back on track," Lehota said, speaking of Slovakia's only shipping company.

However, the company's management is also attempting to privatize the company, and in April, set up a company to begin taking steps to acquire a majority stake.

Union officials say management and FNM are not sharing information with them. But union officials are attempting to foresee and prevent a possible sale of the shipping company to an owner who would fire most employees. In addition, union officials note, there is a danger that a new owner would be interested only in company property, and not future prospects.

"We have seen the direction of privatization in Slovakia," Ferencak said. He was referring to a reported FNM preference to sell companies -- not to the highest or best bidder -- but to those with close ties to Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's HZDS political party.

If they do decide to strike this month, SPaP officials would join employees at Paliva Bratislava -- now on strike for three months -- to protest the manner in which that state company was privatized.

In June, canning company employees of Nokofruit in Nove Zamky took to the streets to call attention to privatization and management problems at the factory there.

And, today, Slovakia's policemen plan a strike in Bratislava.