ČLÁNOK




National Railway Company Head Appeals on Strikers to Negotiate
3. februára 2003

Director General of national railway company Zeleznicna Spolocnost (ZSSK) Pavol Kuzma urgently appeals on the Central Strike Committee to meet again over resuming of the cargo railway transport. He promises to widen the already prepared draft agreement between the company and the striking railway workers. Also Transport Minister Pavol Prokopovic declared he is ready to join such talks and contribute to reaching of the agreement.

Responding to massive strike of Slovak railroad workers, Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said he was willing to discuss planned railway transportation cuts with the trade unions only after they end the strike. Mr. Dzurinda alleges that the strike as expression of power-thirst with a clear political background, as the trade unionists have not used all the available means to reach an agreement.

The strike situation has not changed from Saturday. Railway transport remains halted all over Slovakia also on Sunday. The only functioning railway route is from Ukraine to steelmaker U.S. Steel Kosice that gets its iron ore supplies. On Saturday, the central crisis committee of the ZSSK promised to secure cargo transportation for U.S. Steel Kosice, power plant Elektraren Vojany, carmaker Volkswagen Bratislava and other strategic companies.

Most railway transport has halted across Slovakia at 11 p.m. on Friday after railway workers started their strike of unspecified duration. They demand to call off the planned reduction in passenger railway transport and subsequent job-cuts. Last minute talks to avert a railway strike failed as the central strike committee could not agree on a compromise with railway companies, railway network operator Zeleznice Slovenskej Republiky (ZSR) and ZSSK. Railway workers were on the six-hour strike already on Wednesday. From February, ZSSK plans to cancel passenger railway transport on 25 regional railway lines. As of March 2, railway transport on additional 200 trains including international ones should be reduced as well. This measure should save costs of ZSSK. Trade unions argue that this reduction would affect regions suffering from high jobless rate in a catastrophic way. However, the heavily indebted national railway company has refused to give up its plans to close 25 loss-making local lines. ZSSK management warned that it would solve potential impacts of the strike by wage cuts and layoffs.

According to ZSSK analyses, one-day strike will cause the company a shortfall in sales of SKK 27 million in passenger transport and SKK 66 million in cargo transport. In case of a longer strike and if clients of Slovak railway companies pick different transport means or railway networks, losses might reach SKK 1.32 billion. This will affect transport or transit of 4.87 million tons of cargo.


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