Prague - One of the biggest steel companies in the Czech Republic - the iron and wires maker Železárny a drátovny Bohumín (ŽDB) - will lay off a third of its 3,000-strong workforce by autumn.
"The firm has started to cut jobs because it does not have enough orders," chairman of the KOVO trade union organisation, Josef Středula, told the daily Aktuálně.cz. The company's managers and the local employment office did not rule out the information.
The Labour Code allows mass lay-offs in such a case. Other employees had to accept a four-day working week with an adequate wage reduction, Středula said.
Directors are not at work
The employment office in Karviná, which Bohumín falls under, did not want to comment on the situation in the ironworks. "Only the director is entitled to speak to journalists, but he is not at work," the director's assistant Lucie Glacová told Aktuálně.cz.
The regional employment office in Ostrava cannot comment on the Bohumín case either, according to analyst Jiří Krhut. "It's true that Bohumín is a ten-minute drive from Ostrava, but only those in Karviná can comment on the situation on the Bohumín labour market," he said.
"The employment office warned me that the ironworks can dismiss as many as 500 people," said Bohumín mayor Petr Vícha, a Senator for the opposition ČSSD.
Head of the HR department at ŽDB, Petra Vodecká, refused to comment as well. "CEO Jan Marinov is the only one who can comment on these issues," she said. And the CEO is not at work, according to his assistant. CFO Tomáš Hladík was available on a mobile phone. "Call me later, I cannot speak now," he said when asked whether the ironworks planned mass job cuts.
More at PDM
Only after the daily Aktuálně.cz published the text on the job cuts, the management of ŽDB owner KKCG came up with a reaction. "There are no mass lay-offs under way in Železárny a drátovny Bohumín Group, and the company is not considering any such step," spokesman Dan Plovajko said.
However, he did not answer when asked whether staff numbers would decrease by more than hundred for instance by the end of June. "There are lay-offs, but it is a standard fluctuation," he only said.
By contrast, the information on mass job cuts was confirmed by ŽDB trade union chairman Jiří Jaškovský. "At the end of last year, the ironworks had 3,020 or 3,010 employees. Now there are 500 people fewer and we have been told that the workforce will drop to 2,010 by October," he said.
He added that the trade union board deals with dismissals of dozens of employees at every meeting. "It's usually called organisational changes. The company even fires single parents or two employees from one family," Jaškovský said.
The trade union board will therefore hold a special meeting on Wednesday to decide how the unions will respond to the job cuts.
If ŽDB really does dismiss 1,000 people at once, it would be a record-high number since the crisis started. Until now, the largest number was 800 employees that a Japanese company laid off in its Žatec plant.
Some companies manufacturing cars and car components have cut more than 1,000 jobs over the past six months. However, they did so gradually, unlike the Bohumín ironworks.