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Bosnian Aluminium Smelter Mostar’s Future Uncertain Amidst Workers’ Protests

 

Around 900 workers at Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Aluminij Mostar – one of the largest aluminium smelters in the Balkans – plan to stage protests in front of the country’s parliament against the government’s inaction to secure the future of the company, reports Balkan Insight.

 

The Federation government is the owner of 44 per cent of the country’s only aluminium producer while the workers hold another 44 per cent and Croatia’s government hold the remaining 12 per cent. The Federation government is responsible for paying Aluminij Mostar’s electricity bills and the workers are protesting as the company is facing disconnection from the electric power grid due to an unpaid debt of €1.5 million.

 

Romeo Bioksic, president of the Union of Workers of Aluminij Mostar, told Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN):

“This worst-case scenario will affect not only workers but their families, so we are talking about thousands of people whose fate depends on Aluminij.”

 

While the government made no public announcements about the situation, Mostar Aluminij said on Monday:

“The Federation government will have to make final, vital decisions on Friday or the collapse of Aluminij is just being postponed.”

The plant’s management added that bringing the plant back to life after disconnection would cost at least 90,000 euros for each of the smelter’s 260 electrolytic cells.

 

BIRN refers to Account – an anti-corruption network to NGO’s in Bosnia – saying that the smelter was vastly overvalued during its privatisation in 2005.

 

Aluminij Mostar sold 106,500 tonnes of aluminium in 2016 and was the third-largest Bosnian exporter in 2017.

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