ZAGREB, July 17 (Hina) – Osijek-Baranja County Prefect Ivan Anusic said on Friday that Agriculture Minister Marija Vuckovic had arranged a meeting for Tuesday with Meggle’s management board and county officials to find a solution for the continuation of milk production in Osijek’s Meggle plant and to save 160 jobs.
The Meggle Croatia dairy company said on Thursday it was restructuring its operations in Croatia and that it would phase out production in Osijek by the end of the year, laying off 160 workers.
Anusic underscored that dairy production in Osijek is a tradition that has existed since 1949 and that it is “impermissible to discontinue that tradition and leave those 160 people without jobs.”
“We will do everything to save jobs and production in this company in Osijek but also for a large number of sub-contractors who in fact depend on Meggle. Contact has been established with Meggle’s management and our minister and after she will contact Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic after his return from Brussels, and I am certain that by the end of the year when the company has announced shutting down, we will find a solution and that won’t happen,” said Anusic.
He underscored that as county prefect he cannot order Meggle where it will work and produce but pressure can be implemented in another way and warn Meggle, which plans to transfer its production to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, that it will no longer be the same brand as it was presented in Croatia where the quality of production was based on locally produced milk.
“At the moment negotiations are being held with our companies in an effort to salvage production and milk processing in Osijek,” said Anusic.
Opposition politicians raise their voice against closing of Meggle plant
A member of the Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) presidency, MP Domagoj Hajdukovic on Friday sent an appeal to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to prevent the end of dairy production in Osijek and the loss of 160 jobs.
He noted that the last government had constantly talked of the “Slavonia Project.”
Closing production and the loss of jobs will certainly not bring anything good for the economy or demography but will mean desertion,” Hajdokuvic said in his letter to Plenkovic.
He added that Meggle would not have made this decision had the government been more efficient and resolute in dealing with the Agrokor crisis and the coronavirus epidemic.
Newly elected MP from the ranks of the Homeland Movement, Vesna Vucemilovic ironically asked the PM whether the shutting down of Meggle was part of the Croatian Democratic Union’s (HDZ) Slavonia project.
“First they closed the sugar factory in Virovitica and now dairy production in Osijek. Several hundred people will lose their jobs because sugar beet production was stimulated in Serbia and dairy companies have sufficient production capacities in Kragujevac and Bihac,” Vucemilovic posted on her Facebook profile.
She admits that both companies are privately owned, and owners can make decisions which they deem to be conducive to their companies’ profitability. However, she raises the question of what the government is doing while citizens are losing their jobs.