In these circumstances, we do not have the slightest room for an additional increase in costs, including those requested by the Union through the proposal of a new collective agreement, which ultimately amount to a 30 percent increase in the cost of salaries and other benefits, they point out in their answer to press questions from the company ArcelorMittal Zenica (AMZ) on the occasion of the beginning of this morning’s general strike in that company.
They note that they started encountering problems in business since the middle of last year, which is a consequence of “global trends in the steel and raw materials market”. The price of coking coal, they claim, has increased by 300, electricity by 44 and natural gas by 80 percent, and railway transport costs by 25 percent in the past two years.
“The price of scrap metal, which directly affects integral steel production, such as in AMZ, has fallen significantly. As an industry that is highly export-oriented to the Balkan countries, challenging market conditions have led to a drastic drop in demand, which directly affects our sustainability. These are also the key reasons for the immediate stoppage of the production process in the company,” the company underlines.
They note that the minimum hourly wage in that company is significantly higher than the hourly wage prescribed by the branch collective agreement and that “they are the only company with such a large number of workers, which, in addition to the hourly wage, also has prescribed coefficients by which all this is multiplied”.
“In January of this year, we already increased salaries by 16 percent, as prescribed by the branch collective agreement, also agreed in cooperation with the representatives of the Union. In the last three years, salaries in AMZ have increased by about 32 percent, and, in addition , our workers received a one-time bonus in the amount of 1,000 BAM; a bonus of 750 BAM as support for overcoming inflation and “regression” every year – regardless of the company’s financial results. The current average salary in the company is above the federal average by about 18 percent.” they claim from that company.
They remind that, since November 11, the operation of the blast furnace was temporarily suspended due to weak market conditions, which led to the temporary suspension of the operation of the entire factory.
“We informed the Union transparently and in detail about all this during six negotiation meetings on the new collective agreement, but unfortunately we did not have understanding from their side. However, wanting to support our people, as much as possible at this time, we even went and beyond the company’s current capabilities and offered the Union some benefits.
Despite this, unfortunately, the Trade Union still decided to go on strike. Such a move can bring no benefit to any of us, but only additional costs – directly threatening the sustainability and security of jobs.
In addition, the arbitrator’s decision to suspend any delivery of goods and receipt of raw materials during the strike is very serious for the company, considering its weak financial situation. We hope that the union understands the long-term consequences of the strike,” warns ArcelorMittalZenica.
They also remind that striking workers remain without salary and other benefits for the days of the strike; the condition of the plant may be threatened, and thus the entire future of the plant; many local suppliers will face a serious loss of income, which threatens several thousand jobs in Zenica, Zenica-Doboj Canton and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The revenues of Railways FBiH and Railways Republika Srpska are seriously threatened; ArselorMital Prijedor was forced to stop production – which directly threatens 850 jobs, and indirectly hundreds more jobs in FBiH and RS.
“It is important to understand that, in these exceptional circumstances, the company is unable to meet the demands of the Union, beyond what has been offered so far. The only effect of the strike is to create a real threat to future employment and the vital economic activities that the company contributes to this country.
Even in these circumstances, temporary suspension of production and huge losses, we do not forget our social responsibility. The lack of gas produced inside our factory will be compensated by the purchase of natural gas, and the delivery of thermal energy to the city will not be suspended, despite the additional losses that will result from this,” said Arcelor Mittal.