Jobs of numerous employees at NKBM are under threat – will Cerar and Pahor wake up and act?

Foto: Mediaspeed/Instagram/STA

While Slovenian prime minister Miro Cerar keeps going on about populist efforts for new jobs and Slovenian president Borut Pahor is travelling the length and breadth of Slovenia by foot, many workers in Nova Gorica, the town where the president spent his childhood, have found themselves in the grip of uncompromising NKBM board members, John Denhof and Josef Gröblacher. Since both of them are too busy with PR activities, the Club of Primorska Deputies, which is led by a deputy of the largest opposition party SDS, Danijel Krivec, has decided to act and fight for the people who have found themselves in an impossible situation.

The Club of Primorska Deputies has learnt of the intention of the NKBM bank to dismiss employees in branches in the Goriška region at the beginning of next year in order to optimise and rationalise work. Allegedly, 90 bankers will lose their jobs, and six of them have already been informed about the intention to dismiss them. According to them, the most worrying part is that there is no plan for a reorganisation of work which would allow the superfluous employees to carry out another job within the bank.

Target of dismissals are people that are most familiar with workings of bank
The dismissed workers will predominantly include people that have worked in the bank their whole lives, i.e. people that know the operation of the bank inside out and are on friendly terms with numerous loyal customers. Considering that these employees have a lot of experience, their work would undoubtedly contribute significantly to the pursuit of business objectives set by the bank.

Management does not want to disclose exact number of people that will be left without daily bread
On 22 August 2017, the management of the bank sent employees a letter saying that the number of employees who will lose their jobs is not yet clear. The letter contained such terms as strategy, global trends, optimisation, and reorganisation, which indicates the intention to dismiss a large number of people. In a letter addressed to the chairman and members of the board of NKBM, Primorska deputies pointed out that it is completely incomprehensible to them why a bank generating one third of its turnover in the Goriška region would decrease the number of branches and consequently the number of employees in this region. Not only does this harm customers and the region itself, it also damages the reputation and business performance of the bank. This raises the question of why local residents should have accounts at this bank since the intention of the bank creates the impression that they are only numbers whose wishes are simply disregarded.

Tradition of good cooperation will be broken
The local community, including representatives of the municipalities, responded with concern to the intention of dismissing employees since they argue that good business success can be achieved through mutual cooperation between a company and the local environment. The NKBM bank had been provided with good foundations through the Nova Gorica Commercial Bank, and it had successfully built on them until it was taken over by the Apollo fund from the US. The Club of Primorska Deputies also pointed out in the letter that closing branches and dismissing employees carelessly breaks the tradition of good cooperation. The chairman and members of the board were therefore asked to think about the reorganisation of work in the bank since it will not only affect the budget of 90 families but will also lead to long-term negative consequences for the whole Goriška region and the bank.

Denhof described as extremely cynical and arrogant
A few days ago, there was a meeting of mayors in the Goriška region, and they agreed that due to the arrogant behaviour of the chairman of the board of NKBM, John Denhof, they would order municipal companies to stop conducting business with NKBM and advise citizens to withdraw their deposits and transfer them to another bank. It should be noted that the business volume of these companies is not negligible, since companies operating in the region include Soške elektrarne, HIT, Elektro Primorska, etc. Some of those present at the meeting with Denhof said that they had never met a more cynical and arrogant person. While rebuking them, he had pointed out that NKBM is now owned by the Apollo fund from the US, which for him means that they can now afford to do anything they want. He had also added that this is part of his strategy, which would be implemented in an uncompromising manner.

Is a NKBM branch also leaving Bovec?
One of the main actors in the closing of the NKBM branch in Nova Gorica is board member Josef Gröblacher, who among other things advocates closing the branch in Bovec, which would be a catastrophe for the local community since NKBM is the only bank there, and many small entrepreneurs as well as the increasing number of tourists in Bovec rely on it. Deputy Danijel Krivec, who leads the Club of Primorska Deputies and comes from Bovec, has announced that he will fight until his last breath to keep NKBM in Bovec. Supposedly, the deputies are also prepared to directly contact the head of the Apollo fund, Leon Black, who is represented in Slovenia by Michele Raba.

As we can see, this is another sad story in which working Slovenians are the victims, and no one in the government is fighting for them. Before assuming power, the government of Miro Cerar had promised that it would fight for ordinary people, but in practice this is not evident. Slovenian president Pahor also seems to be too busy with hiking tours and photography along the way. Now both of them have a chance to do something useful for Slovenian citizens.