Employees at Shipyard Cancel Planned Strike

Employees at Shipyard Cancel Planned Strike

Published: October 11, 2011 (Issue # 1678)

Employees at Baltiisky Zavod, one of the city’s biggest shipyards, dropped their plans to hold a preventive strike planned for Wednesday after their demands were met Tuesday.

“Today, after a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, the trade union committee took the decision that all the questions that we had disagreed on were solved, and that there was no longer any need for a strike,” Vyacheslav Firyulin, head of the shipyard’s trade union, was quoted by Interfax as saying Tuesday.

Baltiisky Zavod was also given a new acting general director and came under the control of United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK) on Tuesday.

New director Valery Venkov, vice president of OSK, was awarded the position under an agreement with the management of OSK, Kozak told workers at the meeting, Fontanka reported.

The former head of the shipyard, Andrei Fomichyov, resigned, while retaining the position of general director of Severnaya Verf, another local shipyard, Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported.

Baltiisky Zavod also signed two contracts Tuesday.

The first was for the renewal of financing for the construction of a floating nuclear power station under guarantees from OSK. The first tranche of 1.5 billion rubles ($47 million) is to be paid as early as Wednesday, Kozak said.

Under the second contract, the shipyard has received an order for the construction of a large ice-breaker for Gazprom. Work on the order is scheduled to start next week, Rossiiskaya Gazeta said.

Kozak also promised to pay off wage arrears before the end of the week, Rosbalt news agency reported.

“The shipyard is currently in a complicated situation, so the government had to take tough and non-standard measures,” Kozak said.

“At the moment, the shipyard’s shares worth 32 billion rubles are under the management of the Central Bank. The Central Bank has taken the shipyard under its management and appointed a new director,” Kozak said.

Kozak arrived at Baltiisky Zavod to find a solution to the shipyard’s problems. The enterprise’s trade union reportedly hoped that the official would help to solve their problems.

Vyacheslav Filyurin, head of the trade union, said members had hoped that Kozak would make the decision to hand over the company to OSK, as they believe it will result in the shipyard finally getting new orders, enabling it to pay off its debts and wage arrears. Consequently, no protest action is now needed, Filyurin was cited by Fontanka as saying.

On Wednesday, workers had been due to stop work for an hour in order to take part in a protest meeting.

The employees’ main demand was to have their wage arrears paid. Currently, the shipyard owes its workers about 40 billion rubles.

The company has fallen on hard times due to a lack of commissions, and dozens of workers were quitting every day, Fontanka reported.

Baltiisky Zavod is in debt to creditors as well as its employees. The city’s Arbitration Court is considering up to 20 cases brought against the shipyard by suppliers, partners and banks, including Khanty-Mansiisky Bank and Gazprom Mezhregiongaz St. Petersburg. Baltiisky Zavod owes about half a billion rubles, and the enterprise does not have that money, Fontanka reported.

The shipyard reportedly began having problems two years ago, when it was passed over for several big orders in favor of other contractors. The shipbuilder’s trade unions said that clients were choosing other shipyards because they lacked trust in Baltiisky Zavod’s former owner, head of United Industrial Corporation Sergei Pugachyov, Fontanka reported.

Three months before leaving office, former St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko appealed to the presidential administration, calling for the shipyard to get a direct order for the construction of an ice-breaker. The shipyard did not get any orders at that time, however.

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