Metals News
Bosnia's Aluminium Smelter in Jeopardy over Strike
industry news
Dec 16,2010

SARAJEVO, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Aluminij Mostar urged Bosnia's regional government on Wednesday to halt a railway workers strike which could close the country's sole aluminium smelter and lead to 900 job losses.

Railway traffic in Bosnia's Muslim-Croat federation came to a halt on Sunday after the region's railway company suspended 10 engine drivers who refused to obey a management order to drive trains with only one engineer.

The railway unions have called a general strike for Dec. 28, demanding that the government revoke changes to a collective bargaining deal and a statute regulating work conditions and obligations, and lift the engine drivers' suspension.

Aluminij gets raw materials from the Croatian port of Ploce via railway. It was forced to stop production at its anode plant and expects to run out of other raw materials at the weekend, it said in a statement.

"We request concrete and urgent action because...if we run out at the weekend of our total stock of bitumen, petrocoke and alumina, Aluminij will stop operating," the management said in a letter to the government.

Unless the government urgently restored railway traffic, Aluminij's 900 workers would lose their jobs, it said.

"In case our electrolysis plant stops operating, it won't be temporary, it will be for good," it said.

The suspension of the railway traffic has threatened other major exporters that get raw materials from the Ploce port via railway.

Gobal Ispat Coke Industry Lukavac (GIKIL), based in the northern town of Tuzla, said it had to cut output by 31 percent and will have to cut it to a technical minimum unless the railway traffic is restored soon.

GIKIL's management voiced concern that its sales in the first quarter of 2011 would plummet, and said that operations at its fertiliser plant Azotara could also be affected.

"The blockade of production at GIKIL, at Azotara and the inability to get coke supplies are seriously endangering the survival of the factory and the future of 1,150 workers," GIKIL said in a statement.

The government said on Tuesday it would order the railway company to take all necessary measures to normalise the railway traffic.

Aluminum Al
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