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Business news, 26.01.2004 14:59

Conflict between shareholders and workers at Proletarsky Zavod

Igor Pashkevich, a member of the factory's board of directors A conflict reminiscent of the post-Soviet struggles between shareholders and workers at major industrial sites has flared up at Proletarsky Zavod, a major producer of equipment for the shipbuilding industry in St. Petersburg.

The IST Group, which holds 37.5 percent of shares in the factory, on Dec. 25 fired Proletarsky's general director, Valery Suslov, and tapped the chief engineer of Baltiisky Zavod, Vladimir Gaidamaka, as acting director on Jan. 15. However, as of writing, Gaidamaka could not assume his post. Suslov, for his part, refuses to step down as general director.

Gennady Lastochkin, chairman of Proletarsky's trade union said that on Wednesday some 200 factory workers blocked the staff entrance to the factory, not allowing Vladimir Gaidamaka to enter. "We support the old general director, Valery Suslov. We think he is a capable person, in contrast to Vladimir Gaidamaka, who hasn't worked a single day at our factory," Lastochkin said.

The IST Group began consolidating its shares in Proletarsky Zavod in 2002 and planned to include Proletarsky in the United Baltic Shipbuilding Co. along with shares in other shipbuilding factories such as Baltiisky Zavod, the Special Design Bureau for Boilers, the Research Institute for Shipboard Machine Building, Aisberg Design Bureau and Severnaya Verf. Igor Tsyplakov, general director of the United Baltic Shipbuilding Co. and chairman of the board of directors of Proletarsky Zavod, said that IST is not satisfied with Suslov's performance. Igor Pashkevich, a member of the factory's board of directors who headed the factory until May of last year, said that under Suslov's direction the factory's financial showing suffered. "When I left the post of general director the factory's debts stood at about 40 million rubles, and now they are up to 400 million rubles," he said.

Tsyplakov said the new general director was voted in by 89 percent of those present at the shareholders' meeting, which also included representatives of the Property Ministry, a 30-percent stakeholder in the factory. But Suslov says he won't surrender to IST without a fight. The Research Institute for Shipboard Machine Building, which he controls, has filed a complaint with the arbitration court of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Oblast demanding annulment of the sale of Proletarsky Zavod shares to the IST Group. Lastochkin claims Pashkevich sold a 14.3 percent share in the factory to IST without consent from other shareholders. The arbitration court will hear the case on Feb. 4.


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