Bulgaria's Major Lead, Zinc Smelter Might End Up Shut Down - Unionist

Industry | December 7, 2011, Wednesday // 19:54|  views

The troubles at Bulgaria's major lead and zinc producer OTZK seem to continue. Photo by BGNES

The Lead and Zinc Complex (OTZK) based in Bulgaria's southern city of Kardzhali might eventually be shut down altogether, according to Ivanka Karakoleva, a local syndicate leader.

Karakoleva alarmed the media Wednesday that the Kardzhali Lead and Zinc Complex has shut down its manufacturing operations because of planned repairs, and its 300 workers have been forced to take paid leaves until January 3, 2012.

"The lead production was terminated at the end of April this year, and only the zinc production has been operating ever since. Now the zinc production has been terminated as well," Karakoleva, who is the head of the factory organization of the Confederation of Independent Bulgarian Syndicates (KNSB), told Darik Radio Wednesday.

The metallurgical workers at OTZK are afraid that the major Bulgarian lead and zinc smelter might have the fate of Bulgaria's one-time steel-making giant Kremikovtzi, which, after years of mismanagement and alleged embezzlement, was recently sold to a makeshift firm owned by 26 year-old Lachezar Varnadzhiev, said to be a previously unknown figurehead, for more than EUR 300 M, and is now to be shut down and sold for scrap.

Several hundred workers of the Kardzhali Lead and Zinc Complex rallied once again in protest Wednesday morning in demands of delayed advance payments on their salaries.

The local unions recently stroke a deal with the management of OTZK which allows them to start an all-out strike if the company violates any of the points of the agreement. However, the syndicates have not decided in favor of such a step yet.

Lead and Zinc Complex AD has been in trouble with Bulgaria's environmental authorities in the recent years.

In 2010, Valentin Zahariev, chair of the Intertrust Holdings AD, the Bulgarian metal producer that controls the complex, who is usually described as one of the richest Bulgarian "oligarchs", announced the construction of a new lead plant near the Bulgarian city of Kardzhali will be completed by the end of 2013.

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Tags: Lead and Zinc Complex, Kardzhali, lead factory, KNSB, syndicates, workers, workers protest, OTZK, Valentin Zahariev, intertrust, Intertrust Holding, trade unions, KNSB, Confederation of Independent Syndicates, Kremikovtzi, steel-maker, steel plant, lachezar varnadzhiev


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