Tension grows at naval shipyards on Kola

Publish date: June 23, 1998

Written by: Igor Kudrik

The funding shortfalls for naval shipyards will lead to a "social explosion" this year, labour union leaders of the repair yards on the Kola Peninsula warn.

Funding of the Russian Navy has been cut in half this year compared to 1997. The huge naval repair infrastructure on the Kola Peninsula, provoked by the Cold War, will feel the financial squeeze especially hard in 1998.

In the beginning of June, 21 workers at the Polyarny naval shipyard on the Kola Peninsula went on a hunger strike. The state owes the yard 4,2 million USD, half of it in back salaries. The last pay day was in December last year. This month a nuclear-powered submarine arrived at the yard to undergo repairs. The desperate workers plan to blockade sub – a strategy that has proved successful last years.

Sevmorput naval repair yard, located in the outskirts on Murmansk, plans to stop dock repairs of two surface vessels – the Admiral Kuznetsov and Peter the Great – if no funding is made available.

The workers of the naval shipyard located in Roslyakovo (no.82) blocked a road in the end of May. At the same time, two workshops of Nerpa shipyard went on strike.

In late May, the Murmansk County administration submitted a program to save the shipyard to the Ministry of Economy. The program, aimed first of all at Nerpa shipyard, suggests using the shipyards’ capacities for decommissioning of nuclear-powered submarines, repair of fishing boats etc. The program, however, assumes workforce reductions of 30-40%.

In the meantime, the Defence Ministry-operated shipyards, such as Roslyakovo (no. 82) and Polyarny (Shkval), will apparently be turned into joint stock companies in an attempt to stop their economic decline.