DMD unions protest management activities
Eight buses carrying DMD Group company workers arrived at a protest rally in front of DMD Holding's building in western Slovakia's Trenčín on April 3 to protest what they saw as the catastrophic consequences of management activity. The workers presented demands to their employers that the future and development of the machinery industry companies be secured.
DMD Holding managers said that the rally was not announced in advance, and that its sole purpose was propaganda. "It is obvious that its goal was not a dialogue, because DMD Holding's board of directors held its regular session in Bratislava, and, therefore, nobody competent could receive the trade unionists in Trenčín,"a statement issued by the management said.
The Economy Ministry has prepared a proposal for the restructuring of DMD Holding and is submitting it to cabinet. The proposal will deal with the settlement of the property relationship between DMD Holding and the subsidiaries DMD Invest, Trade, Progres, Fin, Credit, and Strojár. "According to the proposal, these firms should be united in a single company," Economy Minister spokesman Peter Benčúrik said.
The proposal will also deal with the settlement of the relationship between DMD Holding and companies that belong to former arms manufacturers such as PPS Detva, ZŤS Martin, ZŤS Dubnica, ZVS Dubnica, and others. These should be, according to the ministry, designated for privatisation and prepared in cooperation with the FNM privatisation agency.
SPP, SE and distributors sign contract on Globtel advisor
Representatives of gas distributor Slovenský plynárenský priemysel (SPP) and power producer Slovenské elektrárne (SE) on March 31 signed, with power distribution plants, a contract for the financial consulting service in the sale of a 36% stake in Globtel GSM with Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB). The whole transaction should be completed in the first half of this year, Economy Ministry spokesman Peter Benčúrik said.
CSFB had won the mid-February tender to be the advisor on the sale of the most popular GSM mobile phone service provider in Slovakia. A tender in April 1999 had originally selected French bank Credit Lyonnais, but CSFB were picked after the French bank refused to accept certain conditions of the sale.
At present, SE controls 21.2% and SPP 5.9% of Globtel's registered capital. The remaining 9% is held by the three power distribution companies, each owning 3% of shares.
SPP and Gazprom launch pipeline negotiations
State-controlled gas distributor Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (SPP) has begun talks on building a branch of the gas pipeline Jamal-Europe via Slovakia. SPP spokesman Helena Polaková said that SPP Director Pavol Kinčeš on March 30 met the head of the Gazprom working group, Viktor Briansych.
The two agreed on the schedule of both expert groups and topics for further negotiations. Representatives are set to meet twice this month.
The first meeting, scheduled for mid-April in Russia's Nizny Novgorod, should discuss principal conceptual issues and the deadlines for the completion of technical documentation.
In early March, the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom turned to Poland and Slovakia to build a pipeline on their territories, through which Gazprom could transport higher volumes of gas to western Europe. The south branch of the pipeline should enable Gazprom to diversify its gas transport routes.
If agreement is not reached on building the new line, Gazprom is considering building a gas pipeline with an annual capacity of 30 billion cubic metres under the Baltic Sea directly from Jamal to Germany.
AZZZ sticking on Labour Code draft revisions
The Association of Employees (AZZZ) has fundamental objections to the draft revision to the Labour Code after discussions on March 31. The Association is against prolonging paid holidays by one week to six weeks, as well as shortening the net working week from 40 to 37.5 hours.
Marian Rybár, AZZZ vice chairman, told a press conference that the economy is unable to cope with a six-week paid holiday and 15 days of state and other holidays for employees. He said that this would in fact mean two months of paid holidays for employees. Rybár said that AZZZ's objections would be submitted to cabinet and parliament.
The group reached a compromise on the question of costs that trade unions incur during the collective bargaining process, which benefit not only members of trade unions but also other employees. According to the approved proposal, it will be possible to cover these costs from the social funds of companies, as well as the net profit of related companies. Social funds are fed from the wages of employees.
SPP plan gets support of supervisory board
The supervisory board of gas distributor Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (SPP) gave its backing for the proposal for the privatisation and transformation of the firm. "The supervisory board, by its resolution, supported plans for the company's management, confirming that the steps of management were right," an SPP spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said that the plan envisages a vertically integrated structure for SPP, including alternative methods of privatisation. "All the changes that are being prepared are oriented towards the implementation of the EU directive concerning liberalisation. Privatisation of SPP should contribute to stability in the transport of gas to western Europe."
The Economy Ministry was supposed to submit the plan for the transformation and privatisation of the gas network to the cabinet by the end of March. The ministry had originally wanted to privatise SPP in the form of a gradual sale of 49% of the shares of individual SPP successor companies to financial investors on the capital market.
Compiled by Ed Holt