Productivity at “Vazovski Mashinostroitelni Zavodi” has decreased significantly in recent months. This was stated by the representatives of the two trade unions in the enterprise – the Confederation of Labour “Podkrepa” and the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (KNSB) before the Minister of Economy and Industry Nikola Stojanov. The urgent meeting was requested by the trade unionists who are worried about the future of “VMZ” and the wages of its workers. The Chairman of the Trade Union “Podkrepa”, Eng. Dimitar Manolov, also took part in the talks.
VMZ has already gone through major crises when people did not receive wages for months. We will not allow this to happen again, especially at a time when demand is greater than supply, the union representatives underscores. According to them, the current management of the factory is dealing with all kinds of other issues, but not paying enough attention to the production process. Actions are being taken which are probably aimed at media coverage but do not contribute to its stability. As an example, an initiative was given where the executive director of VMZ distributed yoghurt to the workers. Social benefits that have been in place for decades, such as canteens for hot meal, etc., were also highlighted as merits of the management. Against this backdrop, productivity is falling and there is talk of material shortages. If these developments deepen, the VMZ will find itself unable to fulfill its signed contracts for which advances have already been received, the unions added.
There have also been mass appointments in the administration of the factory instead of strengthening production. Some of the new recruits are receiving record monthly salaries; according to unconfirmed information, their contracts contain clauses for serious severance pay in the event of dismissal. At the same time, long-serving employees are under pressure to leave. Among them is the Director of Human Resources, who has worked at VMZ for 42 years.
“The facts you share are very disturbing. I want to assure you that as a person whose biography is linked to the VMZ I will not allow the enterprise and its people to be threatened,” Minister Stojanov said. He stressed that he also receives alerts of illogical actions in the management of the strategic enterprise, but it is important for him to get acquainted with all the information before proposing solutions. “I assure you that we will do everything to ensure the stability of the company,” the economy minister added. He explained that he had instructed that he be provided with information on the real situation at the plant by the end of the week and committed that any next step concerning its future be discussed operationally with the workers, in the face of the trade unions.
Minister Stojanov confirmed that the agreed increase of 20% of the wages of the workers in VMZ will be maintained. “Together with this, we must look for mechanisms to promote workers to strategic positions in the enterprise in order to retain and develop them, because people are the present and the future of VMZ,” he said. According to him, it is crucial to seek all opportunities for new investments for modernisation in order for the enterprise to start producing products of the so-called NATO standard. “Only this will guarantee the future of the factory, which is structurally decisive not only at the regional but also at the national level,” the economic minister added.
The negative impact that the blocking of the work of the Export Control Commission has had on the VMZ was also discussed during the meeting. It may be recalled that the previous Minister of Economy and Industry, in contravention of the law, had not convened the specialised commission, which grants import and export permits for the military-industrial complex, for over a month. This has blocked the import of materials for enterprises such as the VMZ and their export of finished products on which payments are expected. “I am glad that we have done everything in our power to unblock the sector so quickly because the wages of thousands of workers depend on it. I hope such deliberate blocking by the state will never happen again,” Minister Stojanov added.