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Slovakia might lose Božena

KRUPINA-based Way Industries may move its production of Božena demining machines to the Czech Republic. The firm has allegedly turned to the Czech investment agency CzechInvest with a request to prepare an offer for moving the plant, the TASR newswire reported on September 30.

KRUPINA-based Way Industries may move its production of Božena demining machines to the Czech Republic. The firm has allegedly turned to the Czech investment agency CzechInvest with a request to prepare an offer for moving the plant, the TASR newswire reported on September 30.

Petra Menclová, a spokesperson for CzechInvest, has neither confirmed nor denied the information.
“We cannot publish any details about negotiations with investors that are underway,” Menclová told TASR.

Way Industries also refused to comment on the situation.

“We will not comment on the strategic plans of the company in the current phase,” said the company’s spokesperson, Peter Benčurik, as quoted by TASR.

If this information proves true, Slovakia will lose one of its best known products in the defence industry. Together with the Božena remote controlled light demining system, the company will also probably move the production of loaders used in the construction sector.

The intention to move the production of Božena to the Czech Republic may be a consequence of two strikes by the company’s employees demanding benefits and a halt to layoffs. The last one took place on September 19, during which production was stopped for two hours. Employees had already protested in late August and held a one-hour strike with a protest march in early September.

“I can confirm that Way Industries has managed to agree upon interesting orders from abroad during a recent period of time, but halts in production caused by trade union activities cause us problems,” Benčurik told the Hospodárske Noviny economic daily.

Božena is currently used by more than 25 countries of the world, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka.

According to unofficial information in the media, Way Industries has not manufactured any Božena during the last three years. The company is not experiencing the best period of time, either. While it closed 2009 with a profit of €6.7 million, two years later its losses exceeded €4 million and one year later €5 million, Hospodárske Noviny wrote.

The situation has gotten even more complicated due to EU sanctions against Russia, as the company was put on the list of companies banned from exporting their products to Russia, as these can be used for military purposes. The company employs about 220 people.

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