- Published: 13.09.2018.
PM says keeping jobs in Uljanik dock most important issue
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Thursday discussed the situation in the Uljanik dock with members of the Uljanik shipbuilding group's management board, unions and leaders of the City of Pula and Istria County, telling reporters the most important issue at the moment was keeping jobs and the company's functioning.
"Those who, perhaps with their work or mistakes or some other circumstances, brought the company into the current situation, are less important. The future is important and that's why we are here today and that's why we are seeking a solution," Plenkovic said in Pula.
He said today's meeting discussed the situation in the ailing Uljanik Group. "We talked very openly about the scenarios before us. We will work hard on finding solutions because none us can dispose with taxpayers' money in a way that would be inconsistent, illegal or unusual in such situations. I think the unions, like us, are aware of what we have done so far and what we will try to do in the future."
Plenkovic recalled the government's role in supporting Uljanik Group's business, reiterating that the group "received a bailout guarantee in the amount of HRK 716 million in January, in agreement with the European Commission."
"That money was channeled via commercial bank loans and enabled the survival and functioning of the shipyards in Pula and Rijeka. The obligations undertaken by the management in that process were, first and foremost, to draw up a restructuring plan and find a strategic partner. I repeat, those were the company's decisions and choices," Plenkovic said, reiterating that the government gave its input.
Upon receiving the plan, the government felt it was not good enough for it to adopt, so it forwarded it to the European Commission to assess what it was about, he added.
"Last week we had a thorough talk with the relevant commissioner. There is good will to keep the shipyard, to find ways for viable shipbuilding in Pula and Rijeka. The Commission is completing preliminary comments, but it was clear from the meeting that the plan needed additional work to be acceptable. The government has provided guarantees so that workers could get their wages. The wages for August have started arriving in workers' accounts. Therefore, we did what we promised," said Plenkovic.
He said it was necessary to restore messages of optimism and trust in Uljanik's survival and functioning, as well as in finding a solution to make shipbuilding viable.
"This trust and the restructuring must realistically correspond to what the strategic partner can bring and how the government is allowed to participate. We are all aware of the good will and intentions of all stakeholders," Plenkovic said.