Strike To Close Zagreb Airport On Friday

November 17, 2011

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Croatia's main airport in the capital Zagreb is likely to be seriously disrupted on Friday by an airport employees' strike.

Unions called the stoppage for Friday (1000-1500 GMT) after the management rejected amendments to the collective agreement which the unions say would protect the workers' rights if the airport was concessioned to a new operator.

Croatia's transport ministry launched an international tender this year for the construction of a second terminal at Zagreb airport and a 30-year concession for operating both terminals.

Zagreb airport is a major hub for leisure travellers heading for the Adriatic coast.

The airport management said on Thursday it could not accept the unions' demands as they would require "unreasonably wide extensions of the rights they enjoy now".

Analysts say Croatia's rigid labour legislation deters many investors who regard the next European Union member as a potentially appealing market. Croatia completed EU entry talks in June and is expected to join the bloc in July 2013.

A union statement said they were prepared to stage another strike on Monday, which would last the whole day. As a last resort, an open-ended strike would start on November 28.

The deadline for the final round of bidding in the tender expires on November 21. Croatia received 10 foreign bids in the first round and, according to unofficial sources, six made it to the second round. The value of the investment is estimated at about EUR€190 million (USD$256 million).

About 2.2 million passengers pass through Zagreb airport annually and the goal is to increase this to around 5 million.