Dear fellow Union members, We are addressing you with an appeal for solidarity and syndical support


Dear fellow Union members,

We are addressing you with an appeal

for solidarity and syndical support

The oldest publishing house in Serbia, 64 years old „Prosveta“ ad was privatized on June 25 , 2009  through public tender.  Buyer and director: Dejan Pantovic.

„Prosveta“ was sold for 3.2 million Euros in six annual installments.  The draft agreement states that the payment should be made in full.  As a legal person buyer was not eligeble for the purchace in installments, but Privatization Agency nevertheless approved the purchase in installments.  The draft agreement states that he was allowed sell 5% of capital (according to the current Law on Privatization). However, in the final verzion of the contract, the Privatization Agency allowed him to sell 30% of the capital immediately, without its official approval. The contract states that the buyer becomes the absolute owner only when he has covered the required number of installments, that is, when  he has made the payment for at least 45% of the capital.  The buyer has made the payment for the first installment of 30% upon signing the purchase agreement and plans to cover the remainder in five equal annual installments.  The buyer has used the privilege given to him by the Privatization Agency and has immediately sold 30% equity.

In the contract, the buyer has assumed the responsibility of covering social programs by  December 24, 2009.  Although the contract states that the buyer should have at his disposal the necessary funds to fulfill all obligations from the Purchase Agreement and the Social Program, it turnes out that those funds are not at his disposal.  Actually, the buyer seems to have no funds.  The contract alsto stipulates that the buyer is under obligation to fullfil agreed obligations from his own sources, or to borrow the funds, whereas the loan may not be burdened with interest or in any other way. However, for this purpose buyer has used the funds obtained by selling „Prosveta“ property and from the loan he received from the Enterprise Development Foundation.

That way he has directly violated the agreement.  Development Fund has given him a credit of 167 million dinars (1,670,000.00 Euros), and he has also received 67 million Euros on behalf of the publishing house „Rad“ (which he also purchased). Chairman of the Board is Mladjan Dinkic, Minister of Economy and Regional Development. It is interesting to note Pantovic has used „Prosveta“ property for mortgage and, as the Privatization Agency says, it was an extra-judicial mortgage.

The Buyer has covered only three outstanding net wages in the agreed period, that is until  December 24, 2009.  (on the last day) and without any contributions and taxes.  He still owes six gross salaries.  We were convinced that the Buyer would not comply with all Contractual obligations and on   January 21, 2010.  we went on strike that was to last until the fulfillment of all obligations under the contract and the social program. At the request of trade unions, Privatization Agency has sent a delegation to inspect the situation on February 2, 2010 establishing that the buyer didn’t fulfill all the obligations. Also they found there was a 63%decline in revenues during the last quarter of 2009 compared to the last quarter of 2008.  This is the best indicator that the customer moved quickly to shut down business hindering business continuity, although he was obliged by the contract to maintain or increase the level of business.  Privatisation Agency  moved the deadline for compliance with obligations under the contract three times, allowing a total of one year, last deadline being  July 22, 2010.

Pubslishing House „Prosveta“ has been in business for 64 years. One of its bookstores, „Geca Kon“, 12 Knez Mihailova Street, Belgrade, is 110 years old.  One does not sell tradition.  Given that „Prosveta“ has stores on attractive locations, the buyer purchesed it only for the real estate value. In February 2009. ministers Mladjan Dinkic (Minister of Economy and Regional Development) and Nebojsa Bradic (Minister of Culture) proclaimed „Geca Kon“ bookstore to be a cultural monument, pledging to the citizens of Serbia that it would be permanently protected.  When we obtained the contract we realized that it was to be protected only for the next 10 years and that with the consent of the  Privatization Agency buyer would be able to sell it tomorrow. Geca Kon was a famous publisher and bookseller.  Unfortunately, in the Second World War Germans executed him just because he was a Jew.  Geca Kon had no living relatives and all of his assets became the possesion of the State of Serbia.  We believe that Serbia should preserve those assets.

The strike started on January 21, 2010 and is still going on. The strike was organized by both representative trade unions in the company, with the help and support of the Independent Trade Union of employees from the printing, publishing, cinematography and media sectors of Serbia and „Independence“ Trade Union. During the seven months we’ve been on strike we have received no salaries or compansation. In Serbia, strikers are left to their own devices.  At the, „Geca Kon“ bookstore (where the protest and strike is held) phone lines have been cut since January 26, 2010  because the buyer did not pay the bills.  During the strike we’ve been without electicity for two months, also due to unpaid bills. We are striking in very difficult conditions with no telephone and internet.  Employees are mostly females of certain age.  The government is hoping that exhausted like this we would finaly give up our  demands.  On April 21, 2010 Minister of Economy and the Chairman of the Management Board of the Development Fund Mladjan Dinkic entered the store and threatened the strikers. He told us: „I suggest that you start working, otherwise you will all be held responsible, collectively and individually. I am personaly going to make sure that the buyer fulfills all his obligations. If he is capable of managing a chain of bookstore, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to manage this one. I believe there are political issues here as well. Unfortunately the buyer has lost a chain of bookstores he was „managing“, and at the moment his account is blocked for 1.4 million Euros.  Is that the guarantee for the survival of „Prosveta“? „Prosveta“ bayer is backed by polititians. We are agoing to hold on and persevere. As our coleague trade unionists from Greece told us, our weapons should be PERSEVERANCE, SOLIDARITY AND FIGHT.

Your syndical support would be a confirmation to us that we are right and will give us the strength to withstand all the temptations we might face in our future struggles.

With great appreciation for your support, warm greetings!

Ljubica Stjepanovic Muhic

President of the Publishing House „Prosveta“ Independent TU

Mirjana Nardin

Chief Representative of PH „Prosveta“ „Independence“ TU

Belgrade, August 9, 2010

Independent trade union of employees in the printing, publishing,

media and cinematography sectors of Serbia

Rajko Simic, president

Borivoje Urosevic, Trade Union Cooperation Coordinator

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