Poland Shipyard Fires Strikers
WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Poland’s largest shipyard said Wednesday it had fired more than 100 striking workers in an attempt to keep what it called an illegal protest from spreading and disrupting production.
As many as 500 of the 9,000 workers at Gdynia Shipyard Group have walked off their jobs since the beginning of the week in a dispute over wages, a company decision to stop providing free meals and safety issues.
A Gdynia spokesman, Miroslaw Piotrowski, said the strike was illegal. He said production at the yard was not seriously disrupted, although several thousand workers had been put on leave until the end of the week. About 5,000 were working normally, he said.
The Gdynia yard is a modernized descendant of a communist-era enterprise that has managed to make profits in recent years despite a depressed global market for new ships.
It has won contracts for specialized vessels from several Western firms, including the U.S. timber giant Weyerhaeuser, which has ordered seven cargo ships.
The shipyard has suffered recently because of an unfavorable zloty-dollar exchange rate. The work force also has become increasingly restive as the company has laid off workers during restructuring.
Piotrowski said company directors would hold talks with trade union representatives, but warned that ``the current economic situation doesn’t allow the shipyard to raise salaries this year.″
The shipyard, located in the Baltic city of Gdynia, also owns the famed Gdansk shipyard, birthplace of the Solidarity trade union that successfully fought communist rule in the 1980s. The strike has not affected that yard so far, the company said.