Shipyard lays off 750 - blames blocked Danube

The Slovenské Lodenice (SLK) shipyard in southern Slovakia's Komárno announced on November 10 that due to the continued blocked state of the Danube as a result of the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, the company will have to lay off 750 employees from its current workforce of 1,700.

The mass-layoff decision was reached by SLK management after holding discussions with the company's trade unions, said SLK chief executive Milan Kopčok. A portion of these workers are on forced leave at 60% salary.

The SLK cannot deliver goods to its foreign customers because bombed bridges and other debris still block the Danube in Yugoslavia, and the company is short of money for financing production. As a result, revenues have dropped 37.9% and output has decreased 85.7% from the same period in 1998. The SLK's direct losses from the postponed delivery of finished vessels are over 328 million Slovak crowns.

Of the 750 laid-off employees, 340 are full-time employees and 320 part-time. Another 650 workers, who are employed by companies associated with SLK, may also be affected by the loss of revenues from the blocked river. Once the situation improves, the company will re-hire the laid-off employees, said Kopčok.

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