Still hoping to win (or at least not to lose drastically), PO once again used the trick from January, when after a months of struggling with the unions and declaring major restructuring actions in whole mining sector, all of the sudden government led by Ewa Kopacz announced a “great success”. Since there were no real outputs of the agreement signed with the labor unions on 17th January, the above mentioned catchword fitted more to a funny, moustachy face of Sasha Baron Cohen’s Borat than to the serious situation back then. History has a way of repeating itself.
As a reaction to the last week’s statement by Ministry of Treasury, miner’s labor unions gathered up on Monday and decided that the jokes are over and on the 5th of October there will be a massive protest in Brzeszcze, which would be an introduction to the larger series of strikes in all the mines, with a big final in Warsaw, planned for the week before election (25th October).
Response from the government came after 48 hours. Right before noon on Wednesday, the industry was struck by the news of MoT planning to move all its shares in Kompania Węglowa to TF Silesia. Two hours later Andrzej Czerwiński (head of MoT) and Wojciech Kowalczyk (MoT’s vice minister, responsible for restructuring the mining sector) announced again a great success and, wait for it: “fulfillment of January’s promises”. This statement was rather surprising, since just a few days before Ministry of Treasury announced that their best plan failed and we cannot expect any serious actions taken in this field, at least not until the end of the month (just this week Czerwiński was hatching plans of establishing NKW/PGG by the end of Q1 of 2016).
Czerwiński said also, that the solution with moving KW to TFS has a “solid law base” and he is not afraid of any EU Commission protests, because “the new formula is more stable”. In long-term scope, MoT hopes that TF Silesia will attract some private investors.
Czerwiński revealed, that PGE and Energa are already thinking about creating a large energy and fuels consortium (both companies already confirmed their initial interest). Meanwhile, there were also some rumors about MoT plans for energy groups consolidation (Tauron merged with Enea, PGE with Energa) and adding to that Silesian mining companies (KW and KHW).
The trick with moving Kompania Węglowa to TF Silesia is quite simple: TFS will try to get cash from banks (which will be secured with shares of PGE, PGNiG and PZU received from MoT, worth in total 1.4 billion PLN) so it can finance all the greedy needs of Silesian colossus. If KW won’t manage to pay it back (and most probably it won’t) TFS will simply increase the share capital. Eventually TF Silesia would have to look for a private investor, which almost certainly will be one of the energy groups.
All this financial engineering did not convinced the unions and since Thursday all the KW’s mines are in constant readiness to start striking. The union’s officials made a few statements, where they accused the government of pulling a wool over their eyes.
In 2013, during the Natural Resources and Energy in Domestic Economy Conference in Zakopane Daniel Borsucki from Katowicki Holding Węglowy compared State’s management over energy and coal producing companies to a man, who is carrying a sack with rats. Whenever the rodents manage to sort out how they all should lie down to make this trip rather comfortable, the man shakes the sack and again confused animals have to pan out. In the context of last events, this metaphor is quite illustrative and compelling.
Andrzej Czerwiński: “We kept our word”. Did you really?