22/02/2024

RiTE Gacko: Big reception on a sinking ship

In the last month, the company Rudnik i thermoelektrana (RiTE) Gacko hired, according to our sources, about 100 new workers under the work contract. This is the largest mass employment since 2014, when 95 were employed.

 

Instead of production, the majority were accepted into administration, unqualified for the production process, but with party and/or family references. Activists or relatives of activists, the son of a former director, a distant relative of the current one, and so on.

Such a practice caused a revolt by about 70 locals who believe that they are being discriminated against because none of them have had a place in this company for years. That’s why they scheduled a protest in front of the company for Sunday at 3 p.m.

Although it is a public company, decisions in RiTE Gacko are made far from the public eye. Acting Management with Acting Director Miodrag Šešlija behaves as an alienated centre of power that makes decisions contrary to the interests of the company and the wider community. One of them is new employment in a company that is groaning under the burden of technological redundancy.

The decision on admission was made at the Board meeting on January 16 of this year and, although we mentioned that it is a public company, we were unable to find out the exact number of new employees. We did not get answers to our questions from the Subsidiary RiTE Gacko, and Elektroprivreda RS said that only the subsidiary company can give us answers.

The decision to ban employment still in force?

In addition to the number of new hires, we were unable to find out when the decision to ban employment was repealed. We know that in 2020 the directors agreed that it is necessary for it to continue to be in force, except for deficit professions necessary for the operation of the system.

Željko Tepavčević, president of the RiTE Gacko Trade Union, confirmed to us that it was in effect at the end of September last year, who then claimed that there was no employment, that RiTE Gacko had 1,885 employees and announced a new round of severance payments that would include about 50 workers.

“I know that a letter from ERS arrived ten days ago reminding them of the ban on employment, but the situation here is such that no one has even looked at it”, explains trade union activist and long-time employee of RiTE Gacko.

“One is happy that everyone works, after all, it is a basic human right. But, in order for everyone to work, conditions must be created, and that has not been done here. The situation is currently such that 11 workers come to one workplace, and that workplace should have been abolished”, explains our interlocutor vividly.

Damjan Ožegović from Transparency International tells “Direkt” that the fact that public companies do not have the obligation to announce a public competition when hiring speaks volumes about the way of hiring.

“We have been working on the optimization of the entire ERS holding for a long time. A large number of workers responded to public calls for incentive severance pay, but this process was not stopped. The biggest fear in all of this is that professional staff will leave, as was previously the case with Željezice, instead of the cumbersome administrative apparatus, which was employed in all these companies within the ERS along party lines years ago”, says Ožegović.

Damjan Ožegović

He says that there is a justified fear that after the departure of some of the workers, other workers could come in their place, which would be a job for competent inspections and prosecutors.

“It should be recalled that the Labor Law also stipulates that if the employer cancels the employee’s employment contract for justified reasons, if due to technological, economic or organizational changes, the need to perform a certain job ceases or there is a reduction in the scope of work, and the employer cannot provide the employee with another job, then the employer cannot hire another person for the same jobs in the same place, within one year from the date of termination of the employment relationship”, explains Ožegović.

It’s quiet in the company

In a small place like Gacko, it is easy to find connections between the names and the reasons for their employment. Up until now, nepotism and obvious party recruitment have passed with resentment and grumbling, but the last admission to RiTE caused so much dissatisfaction that about 70 citizens gathered in an informal group and announced protests in front of the entrance to RiTE for Sunday, February 19 at 3 p.m. Gacko.

Namely, about 15 days ago, they demanded an appointment with director Šešlija, but no one from the company responded.

“Honestly, we expected an answer, so we also appointed a delegation that would represent us. But we are also ready for the protest that we scheduled for Sunday. They did not allow us to be in front of the main gate of RiTE Gacko, so we will gather in the park in front of the company. We are witnesses that all employment was done through political means and that in our municipality there are over 70 families where not a single member works in state companies. We have invited all citizens and all veterans, trade union and political organizations of our municipality to the protest”, Dušan Adžić and Aleksandar Lečić told “Direkt” on behalf of a group of dissatisfied citizens.

The Supervisory Board does not agree with its opinion

It is difficult to say whether director Šešlij and RiTE Gacko’s management were silent because they did not care about the opinion of the public or because they were preoccupied with their troubles. What the public could see in the past few days is that not only employment is partisan, but the entire company is like that. And he is currently being pulled by two currents. On the one hand, the current of Luka Petrović, the director of Elektroprivreda RS and a high-ranking official of the ruling party, and on the other, Srđan Milović, a former deputy in the NSRS, former president of the OO SNSD in Gacko, still an adviser to the director of Šešlija and, in general, the person behind the backdrop, managed the political and economic life of the municipality.

What is known is that Miodrag Šešlija resigned on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, the Supervisory Board of RiTE Gacko had a telephone meeting where it accepted the resignation and was supposed to appoint Sešlija’s deputy.

“We did not agree on the name. In fact, we did not even consider anyone because the Government did not even propose anyone. We will appoint one of the members of the Board to perform this duty until the election of a new acting officer”, said one of the board members to “Direkt”. However, on Thursday, again by phone, the NO cancelled its decision from Wednesday and put Šešlija back in the saddle. Thus, in full view of the public, the entire Supervisory Board of RiTE Gacko was ridiculed and multiplied by zero.

The media reported that the government signalled that the leadership would not be changed, and that the “conspirators” would be replaced in the coming days. Namely, as Šešlija’s deputy, Petar Marković, the current head of the club of SNSD councillors in SO Gacko and executive director for the mine in the company’s management, was seen. Allegedly, Luka Petrović put together a team that was supposed to fill the Management Board and management positions in the work units.

He was defeated in this battle, but the war probably continues. Until now, the guild was mostly paid by the company that has a 30 million mark lawsuit against “Boksita” from Milić, which stopped working in January because of bad coal, which pollutes the environment with all its might, robs the mine, and for the last eight years has not even recultivated one square meter of surface. Moreover, it did not separate and preserve even a cube of humus, but threw it away together with the marl.

In short, any illusion that anything is being done here according to the law and in the public interest has been dispelled. Although in its late years, RiTE Gacko is still a respectable facility that produces a third of the electricity in the RS. The question is until when.

Party recruitment has become a tradition

There are a number of factors that, at all levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, created the environment for party employment to take over and become a tradition, Mirjana Ćuskić from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights told “Direkt”.

“It absolutely does not matter what competencies and knowledge you have, at which university you obtained your knowledge and title, it only matters how much you are ready to sacrifice for a certain party and the individual, personal interests of the rulers. The directors of public companies are not interested in the development of the company and the economy, but only in their own pockets, and one of the ways to fill it is illegal employment. Corrupt courts and prosecutions work in their hands, and the fact that in this country we rarely see any official being prosecuted and adequately punished for illegal procedures and abuses”, believes our interlocutor.

mirjana cuskic

Mirjana Ćuskić (Helsinški odbor za ljudska prava)

The lack of reaction from those who are victims of such a system further complicates the whole situation.

“There are several reasons for this, among other things, the fear that they will not be able to find an adequate job in the future or that they will be obstructed in some other segments of life… Those who get employment in illegal ways stay and, of course, do not protest, because and why would when they freely enjoy the benefits provided by the political party to which they are loyal”, concludes Ćuskić.

 

Direkt

 

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