No Mercy for the Crane Operators

03. 08. 2011

No Mercy for the Crane Operators

The management of port operator Luka Koper will dismiss the organisers of the crane operators' strike at Slovenia's sole seaport, CEO Gregor Veselko said. The KS 90 port workers' trade union, which opposes the strike, is meanwhile collecting signatures against the strike, which started on Friday.



Procedures have started for dismissing all 23 members of the strike committee, while the contract with one of Luka Koper's contractors has already been cancelled over violations of the law, stressed Veselko, who deems the strike illegitimate and the workers' demands unlawful.


The damage caused by the industrial action, which was joined by some of the port operator's contractors on Saturday, has reached some EUR 500,000, Veselko said, stressing that everyone in the company will feel the consequences. The strike has already started causing one-to-two-day delays in railway cargo transport, railway operator Slovenske zeleznice said.


In line with the collective bargaining agreement, the crane operators are working five hours a day during the strike, focusing on the transshipment of perishable or dangerous goods.

According to the Luka Koper boss, people have already started quitting the union of crane operators and 150 of the 182 scheduled workers of contractors are working as planned, so things are returning to normal.

However, Mladen Jovicic, a representative of the crane operators, denied these claims ahead of a meeting with the management, adding that it was inappropriate of the management to threaten with dismissals and then invite the workers to negotiate.


Veselko stressed at today's press conference that the management was in favour of dialogue, but would not tolerate blackmail by the workers. He said that the issue of safety, which the workers on strike stress at their protests, are hardly present in the strike demands, while safety at the port is subject to constant inspections.

Furthermore, he reiterated that Luka Koper understood the difficulties of the workers at its contractors, but was not in a position to solve their problems, as the port operator was paying its contractors regularly.


According to Davorin Petaros of KS 90, which held a separate press conference, the person to blame for the whole situation at Luka Koper is workers' director Matjaz Stare. If anyone, Stare should get dismissed, Petaros said.

The trade union does not oppose the strike demands, but thinks industrial action should be the last resort and must be used responsibly. For the workers at Luka Koper's contractors, the union however sees a solution in a collective bargaining agreement for all the contractors.


The Invisible Workers of the World group (IWW) meanwhile expressed support for the strike, stressing that the industrial action was not limited to crane operators but included underprivileged workers in different parts of Luka Koper. Statements neglecting these workers undermine workers' solidarity, the organisation said.