Workers of shipyard Uljanik from Pula and 3. Maj from Rijeka protest in Zagreb, capital of Croatia, on Aug. 27, 2018. Around 1,000 Croatian shipyard workers protested here on Monday over unpaid wages, demanding the resignation of the company's management board. (Xinhua/Patrik Macek)
ZAGREB, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Around 1,000 Croatian shipyard workers protested here on Monday over unpaid wages, demanding the resignation of the company's management board.
The workers arrived in Zagreb from the coastal cities Pula and Rijeka, where the shipyards Uljanik and 3. Maj are located. The shipyards are part of Croatia's largest shipbuilding group, Uljanik, that is dealing with financial problems.
They started a strike on Wednesday last week and have now decided to stage a protest in front of the government building in Zagreb. They are demanding the government's help, as it has a minority stake in the company. They are protesting not just over late payments, but also because of shipyards' uncertain future.
The Uljanik Group is a privately owned company. Among many owners, the biggest are the country's top insurer Croatia osiguranje and local banks, while the workers control almost 50 percent of the company.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and three government ministers met union members on Monday. After the meeting, union leaders told workers that they were told the unpaid wages could be paid by the end of the week.
The protest ended peacefully, but the workers stressed they will continue to strike until they see the money in their bank accounts. Economy minister Darko Horvat told reporters that the government was working hard to secure salaries for the workers. He emphasized that the survival of the shipyards was in the government's interest, but that they have to be more effective so that the same problem doesn't repeat in four or five years.
According to some estimates, Croatia has spent over 30 billion kuna (4.7 billion U.S. dollars) to save its shipyards in the last 17 years. After joining the European Union in 2013, the shipyards had to be restructured so they could operate without government money, since EU rules don't allow for state financial help.