How can Poland revamp its coal industry?

As part of the reform of Poland's ailing coal industry, the trade unions have agreed to go without holiday bonus payments for 18 months. Will the move make Poland's mining industry profitable once more?

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Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Unions coming to their senses

The mines of Poland's biggest state-run coal company Kompania Węglowa (KW) are to be transferred to the new Polska Grupa Górnicza (PGG), according to a plan put forward by the government. The company is to be in the black as of 2018. The agreement on suspending holiday bonus payments could be an important step forward, the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita believes:

“This could well be a breakthrough. Basically the incorporation of mines belonging to KW into PGG makes it possible to radically change the balance of power between the management and the unions. The coal giant's management must now seize the opportunity to push through further cuts. ... The agreement could even serve as a positive example for other coal companies. The management of Katowice Coal Holding (KHW) is currently in negotiations involving cuts of half a billion złoty (120 million euros).”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Miners must be more modest in their demands

For the new mining company to be profitable the employees must give up more than just their 14th-month wage, counters the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza:

“The miners must finally understand that they're not actually entitled to any bonuses or special payments. No other company makes such payments when it's on the verge of bankruptcy. The worst of it is that even if the miners do go along with the government's plan it's still not certain that PGG will ever be profitable. There's no telling whether the company won't need more state aid in another year or two.”