Mine-Clearing companies gathered in CEA seeking urgent change in demining system

17.05.2016.

Zagreb, May 17, 2016. – Humanitarian Mine-Clearing Association, that operates within the Croatian Employers' Association and brings together companies that employ more than 50% of the total employed deminers, considers that the existing system of demining should be urgently changed. Such a poor and dysfunctional system, as employers call it, threatens demining companies, employees in those companies, but also citizens who live along the cleared areas. Mine-Clearing companies gathered in CEA seek amendments to the Law on mine action, but also a change in the system of appointment of the Governing Council of the Croatian Mine Action Centre.
„With the existing law on mine action and according to the current proposals for secondary legislation, the process of demining would significantly be slowed down and it certainly could not be completed by the 2019, as planned. Profession has already, in passing this law, warned against its numerous weaknesses as well as the fact that it increases the price of the demining process, but our opinion was ignored.“, said Željko Romić, member of the Executive Board of the CEA – Humanitarian Mine-Clearing Association.

Employers warn that the entire system does not work and seek its urgent reform in order to continue the process of demining and to use the funds that are intended for it.

„It is no secret that there are problems in the relations between the Governing Council, the Government Office for Humanitarian Demining and the leadership of CROMAC (Croatian Mine Action Centre), which reflects negatively on the entire demining system.", said Željko Kavran, member of the Executive Board of the CEA – Humanitarian Mine-Clearing Association, explaining that members of the Association advocate to change the system of appointment of the Governing Council of the CROMAC. The Prime Minister should appoint the President of the Governing Council, and other members should be appointed by the relevant ministries - Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds.

The current poor situation in the system leads to an absurd situation - for 2016 a record 509 million kunas have been provided for mine clearance, yet there are no announcing tenders.

„Money is there, but no one is doing the actual demining. There is no work for the majority of companies, thus threatening their existence, as well as the existence of their workers. The common interest of employers and employees in those companies is to solve the problems in the current system. “, said Zdenko Sokač, member of the Executive Board of the CEA – Humanitarian Mine-Clearing Association. He added that the request pronounced on the recent protest of deminers on returning demining to the state can not be implemented because only a third of activities is financed from the state budget, while the rest from the EU funds. The perennial loss of the MUNGOS MINE Ltd. Sisak company, owned by CROMAC, should also be kept in mind, because the company gets its business outside the public procurement system and nevertheless piles losses then covered by taxpayers.

Employers gathered in CEA pointed out that they, despite all the difficulties, duly settle liabilities to the employees, and to this day abide by the provisions of the Collective Agreement which ceased to be valid in 2014. They support the start of collective negotiations that would eventually lead to a conclusion of the new Collective Agreement for Humanitarian Demining activities.

„We believe that the interests of our employers and employees coincide. We are on the same side when looking to change the system, because the current situation, and the abnormally low prices at which some companies agree to carry out demining operations, endangers us and our employees. Individual companies that do not pay their workers, in any industry including ours, are unfair competition, thus threatening us and our employees.“, said Vladimir Franjić, member of the Executive Board of the CEA – Humanitarian Mine-Clearing Association.

CEA – Humanitarian Mine-Clearing Association has warned the Prime Minister Orešković about all the problems in the demining system, and is expecting from him to urgently engage in resolving the current unsustainable situation. As employers have concluded, as long as the system does not put things in order and the process of demining is not finalized, Croatia will not truly be a safe country for all its citizens.

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