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PKP Cargo on a slippery slope. Restructuring or winding up the Polish railways?

PKP Cargo na równi pochyłej. Restrukturyzacja czy zwijanie polskiej kolei?

Information on the current situation of PKP Cargo SA and the planned restructuring of the company was presented today at the meeting of the parliamentary subcommittee for transport by representatives of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the management board of PKP CARGO SA. According to the company's management board, the company found itself in a dire situation, mainly due to the decision of the previous government, but it has started restructuring that can save the company. According to railway trade unionists, the implemented program serves neither the rehabilitation nor the development of the company, but rather "closing down operations".

Restructuring needed

The head of PKP Cargo admitted that the financial situation of PKP Cargo is difficult, but there is no question of closing or bankruptcy of the company. The company is in debt and has delays in payment of liabilities, but remains financially liquid. Therefore, it requires urgent and thorough restructuring. However, Marcin Wojewódka assured that all employees will receive their full salaries for June today.

-The aim of the current management board's actions is to remedy the sick situation in which the company finds itself in all aspects. Not only financially, but also organizationally and rolling stock – said Wojewódka.

According to the Voivodka, as a result of the decisions of the previous government and the company's management board, PKP Cargo found itself "in a quagmire", and the application for restructuring submitted to the court at the end of June was necessary. However, as long as the company pays insurance premiums and taxes, it will be able to participate in tenders and conduct business. Now you just have to wait for the court to consider the application.

– Sanation means protection against interest on overdue payments, the company will be able to withdraw from unfavorable contracts and will be protected against enforcement – assured the company's acting president.

Unavoidable layoffs

The voivode also explained that group layoffs in the company are necessary because employment costs are the largest burden on the company's finances.

– Without reducing employment costs, we will not be able to save the company, and several thousand jobs are at stake – said the head of PKP Cargo.

The company's president argued at a meeting of the parliamentary transport committee that PKP Cargo was ruined by the orders "from above" issued to the company in 2022. As a result, the then management withdrew from profitable contracts and transports, and sent coal trucks to Gdynia and Szczecin, where they were to wait for coal from Colombia. According to Wojewódka, the consequences of these harmful decisions will be felt by the company for years, because "these are hundreds of millions of zlotys of losses." The president announced that he would provide hard data to prove his words.

Rescue or collapse?

In the opinion of the president of the Trade Union of Railway Drivers, Leszek Miętek, the "sanation" or restructuring of the company proposed by the management board only amounts to reducing the company and depriving it of opportunities to develop or even maintain its current position on the domestic freight transport market.

-This is our basic complaint: the company is being closed down. We are ready to talk about employment restructuring in the context of the restructuring of the entire company, but there is no such plan – said Miętek. -It only winds up the company and limits its future development potential.

It should be recalled that at the beginning of July, the management board of PKP Cargo announced its intention to carry out group layoffs, which will cover up to 30 percent of the current staff. He wants to dissolve the collective labor agreement and proposed that the unions conclude an agreement that will regulate the company's obligations towards its employees. Miętek pointed out that the management board did not want to talk about new contracts and corrective actions, but only about layoffs. Therefore, there is no real will to save PKP Cargo. He recalled that trade unions from 2022 raised alarms about the poor condition and management of the company, but without any response from the management board or the Ministry of Infrastructure.

The fall of a giant

PKP Cargo is the largest and leading rail freight carrier in Poland, which provides extensive logistics services, correlating rail transport with road and sea transport. The largest shareholder of PKP Cargo is PKP SA, which has a share of 33.01%. shares. The company operates not only in Poland, but also in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Slovenia. Over 10 years, the company's share in the domestic transport market dropped from over 50%. up to 33 percent For the first quarter of 2024, the company recorded a loss of PLN 118 million. For comparison, a year earlier in the same period it reported PLN 104 million in profit.

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