Bosnia railway strike may halt metals production

SARAJEVO, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Steel major ArcelorMittal warned on Monday of a halt to production in Bosnia’s Serb Republic if the region’s railway company fails to end a strike by engine drivers.

The week-long strike has disrupted operations at iron ore mine ArcelorMittal Prijedor and choked supplies of feedstock for the Balkan country’s sole steelmaker, ArcelorMittal Zenica, located in the Muslim-Croat federation, Bosnia’s other autonomous half.

“Unless the strike ends, ArcelorMittal Prijedor will be forced to halt production as it has no storage space for its ore, and ArcelorMittal Zenica has fallen short of ingots needed for normal operation,” the companies said in a joint statement.

For the fourth time in just under a year, cargo and passenger traffic came to a standstill last week after engine drivers went on strike over the refusal by management at the indebted company to increase their pay.

The strike has also hurt operations of alumina plant Birac in the eastern town of Zvornik, majority-owned by Lithuania’s Ukio Bank Investment Group , and metal pipe plant Unis in the northern town of Derventa.

“The transport of raw materials and the output of these companies has stalled completely, and the railway company has been warned that all these plants may seek compensation for the damage caused by the strike,” the Serb Republic Railway Company said in a statement.

It called for a minimum level of service until a solution is found.

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