BCT, Porcela Plus group: unions ask for help

Unions have requested that Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek help save Bohemia Crystalex Trading (BCT) and Porcela Plus glass group, presently struggling with financial problems, Vladimir Kubinec, he…

Unions have requested that Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek help save Bohemia Crystalex Trading (BCT) and Porcela Plus glass group, presently struggling with financial problems, Vladimir Kubinec, head of the ceramics and glass trade union organization, said on 24 September. Unions also requested banks to enable access to the companies“ accounts in order to keep production going and pay wages to 7,000 employees, said Kubinec. Unions are ready to stage a protest, he said. BCT is the largest Czech glassmaker, and is owned 49% by the state. CSOB bank has one share, and also manages the state share. The remaining part is in the hands of entrepreneurs Radovan Kvet and Jan Soucek. Porcela Plus is owned 65% by the state with the rest is held by Kvet and Soucek. However, the government refused to take over the glassmaker and contribute to its rescue. Unions say the government could save the companies by purchasing claims of financing banks group“s. In this way, the money the government would spend would be paid back twice in about a year in the form of VAT, health and social insurance or unpaid employment and social benefits, said Kubinec. Finance Ministry representatives were not immediately available for comment. BCT and Porcela Plus have filed an insolvency petition because of lack of operating capital, the culmination of long-term problems with financing the operation of all the firms, said Kubinec. The City Court in Prague, however, rejected the petition filed by Porcela Plus and BCT and its subsidiary Sklarny Kavalier Sazava due to formal reasons. Other firms, including Crystalex Novy Bor, Sklo Bohemia Svetla nad Sazavou, Sklarny Bohemia Podebrady and Karlovarsky porcelan, are also facing this kind of problem because their petitions were the same. This means that they have to file for insolvency again, thus delaying the resolution of the financial problems of the group. We are convinced that the current situation is not only reflecting the current economic processes, such as a strong crown, rising prices of energy and weakening demand for goods, Kubinec said. The privatization process and subsequent restructuring are also to blame to a great extent, he said.