Bosnia and Herzegovina’s government-owned utility EPBiH said it would reduce the number of employees in its seven coal mines to get them on a firm footing. Just before the deal with the government and unionists, the company acknowledged upcoming deadlines for abandoning the fossil fuel.
The Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and state-controlled power producer Elektroprivreda BiH or EPBiH struck a deal with the miners’ union on cost cuts as the company’s coal mines are piling up debt. The number of employees will be reduced to 5,200 from 7,200 by 2023.
FBiH is one of the entities making up Bosnia and Herzegovina, the other one being the Republic of Srpska.
The tripartite social dialogue resulted in a restructuring agreement for the division of the power plant operator. EPBiH said it would pay its debt to the pension fund so that 419 people could retire by the end of the year.
Coal mine reorganization to cost EUR 64 million
Union officials said some workers would be reskilled while that others would get severance pay. A number of employees from the coal mines are set to be transferred to EPBiH’s other subsidiaries. The agreement was achieved soon after the company acknowledged the business segment is failing and that the country needs to phase out the fossil fuel on its path to join the European Union.
The company earmarked EUR 64 million for the restructuring program and another EUR 66 million for capital expenditure
The firms in question operate seven coal mines: Kreka, Đurđevik, Breza, Kakanj, Zenica, Abid Lolić and Gračanica. EPBiH said it earmarked EUR 64 million for the restructuring program and another EUR 66 million for investment and that it wouldn’t cause a jump in power prices.
Numer of employees to be almost halved from 2009 level
The deal is scheduled to be approved at the utility’s shareholder meeting on May 25. When EPBiH took over the coal mines in 2009, they had almost 10,500 employees. The company’s portfolio consists of 1.74 GW in two coal-fired thermal power plants, 518 MW in hydropower facilities and a new 48 MW wind farm.
Minister of Energy, Mining and Industry of FBiH Nermin Džindić said not one worker would be left behind. Earlier he claimed only administration jobs would be shed and that not a single miner would be laid off.