Polish coal industry is much like education. Every new government presents a new reform plan, even starts to implement it. Then, something invariably goes wrong in the cogs of the administrative machinery and the widely hailed changes come to a halt. The initiative is abandoned until a new cabinet is sworn in. On and on. Until today – President of Employers of Poland Andrzej Malinowski writes in “Rzeczpospolita”.
He emphasizes that this time, action cannot be delayed any longer: the situation is critical, it is now or never. Even Grzegorz Tobiszowski, the minister in charge of the reform, does not hide that the existence of the entire sector is at stake, albeit keeping an optimistic outlook.
– The Ministry of Energy has announced that it wants the mining industry to exist without public subsidies. The plan is ambitious and commendable – but is it feasible? It requires deep and painful changes. Polska Grupa Górnicza, the establishment of which took much effort and was successful largely thanks to the perseverance of the aforementioned minister, has to an incubator of such changes – assesses the President of Employers of Poland.
The PGG will have to navigate between EU lobby, looking to restrict the use of traditional energy sources as much as possible, and the trade unions fighting to retain their privileges. – Meanwhile, some unions do not even pretend to care about social guarantees for workers more than they care about preserving the strong positions of union leaders. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the worse the condition of the mining industry, the more new unions are established. Today, the biggest challenge is not reaching an agreement with the biggest unions – “Solidarność” and OPZZ – but with the small ones, who are only starting to fight for recognition – adds Malinowski.
In his opinion, Polish mines have big potential, as shown by the case of bituminous coal mining in Czech Republic. However, the success of the reform will depend mainly on the political strength of those in charge of it.
– Buying time by spending millions on mines that generate losses will no longer work. It will only confirm the final and irreversible catastrophe of the mining industry, a patient who is already on the deathbed. Should that happen, the bitter bill will have to be paid by the current government – summarizes the President of Employers of Poland.