Home' Greymouth Star : July 12th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, July 12, 2014
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uLetters to the editor
1543 - Henry VIII of England marries his
sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr.
1690 - Protestant forces led by William of
Orange defeat the Roman Catholic army of
James II at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland.
1776 - The ship Resolution, commanded by
Captain James Cook, leaves England to search
for a northern sea passage.
1906 - Alfred Dreyfus, French artillery officer
falsely accused of treason, is finally pardoned
and restored to his rank and
1910 - Charles Stewart Rolls,
aviator and co-founder of Rolls-
Royce, becomes Britain’s first
aviation fatality when he crashes his
Wright biplane near Bournemouth.
1920 - The Panama Canal is
1930 - Australia’s Don Bradman sets a Test
record with an innings of 334 against England.
1996 - Britain’s Prince Charles and Princess
Diana agree the terms of their divorce.
1997 - The Cuban government confirms
remains found in a remote Bolivian village
are those of legendary guerilla Ernesto “Che”
1998 - Three young Catholic boys burn to
death in a sectarian attack in Northern Ireland.
2005 - Prince Albert II of Monaco accedes to
the throne of a 700-year-old dynasty.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Gaius Julius Caesar, Roman dictator (100
BC-44 BC); Elijah Wedgewood, British
pottery maker (1730-1795); George
Eastman, US inventor (1854-
1932); Milton Berle, US comedian
(1908-2002); Al Grassby, Australian
politician (1926-2005); Bill Cosby,
US actor-comedian (1937-);
Christine McVie, English musician
(1943 -); Cheryl Ladd, US actress
(1951-); Christian Vieri, Italian soccer player
(1973-); Michelle Rodriguez, US actor (1978-).
“No man is happy without a delusion of
some kind. Delusions are as necessary to our
happiness as realities. ” — Christian Nestell
Bovee, American author (1820-1904).
“But the one who had received the one talent
went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid
his master’s money.” — (Matthew 25:18).
The increased birth
rate is becoming a
universal problem but
in a Blaketown home
it is a domestic one. The home of Mr and Mrs
H Newby is being overrun by white mice.
Recently 12-year-old Janet Newby bought a
pair of the little creatures. Since the pair were
put in their snug little box they have bred and
bred. In an alarmingly short space of time the
family numbered 16 and according to Janet ’s
mother the situation got “a bit over whelming”.
However, the problem has its compensations,
for Janet is now selling the mice and has
already disposed of seven.
Buller and Karamea branches of Federated
Farmers decided unanimously at a joint
meeting at Granity last night to support
affiliation with the Westland Catchment
Board. The chairman of the Buller branch, Mr
J O’Connor said that nothing but good could
result from the proposal to attach the district to
a properly constituted drainage board.
The question of drainage in Buller became
prominent recently when the Buller County
Council withdrew as the district ’s drainage
A 5in by 4in piece of cheap coloured paper
has so far meant £10,000 to Catholic building
in Greymouth. It has been the cornerstone of
£100,000 spent with builders here in the past
four years. The piece of paper is a ticket in the
St Patrick’s Building Fund raffle which has
been operating in Greymouth for five years.
For those years it has run “ like a nice piece of
machinery, well oiled,” according to building
committee chairman, Mr B F Connors.
uFood for thought
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As the Russian-
all their positions in
eastern Ukraine apart
from the two regional
capital cities, Donetsk
and Luhansk, the
various players made
There were no huge
crowds when pro-
Russian rebels seized power in the east, no
lengthy occupations of public squares by
Newly-elected Ukrainian President Petro
Poroshenko said cautiously that this could
be “the beginning of the turning point in
the fight against militants”. Do not make
promises that you are not sure you can
The new defence minister, Lieutenant-
General Valeriy Heletey, boldly promised
the Ukrainian parliament that “there
will be a victory parade . . . in Ukraine’s
Sevastopol”. But that would require the
Ukraine to take back the southern province
of Crimea, which Russia seized and
annexed in March, so it is a promise that
will never be kept. Crimea is gone.
Pavel Gubarev, the self-proclaimed
governor of the Donetsk People’s Republic,
told a rally in the city that “we will begin
a real partisan war around the whole
perimeter of Donetsk. We will drown these
wretches (the Ukrainian army) in blood”.
That is standard morale-raising rhetoric in
the wake of a military collapse — or, as the
rebels prefer to call it, a “tactical retreat ”.
But Igor Strelkov, the military
commander of the rebels in Donetsk
province, made a truly revealing comment.
Pleading for Russian military inter vention
on July 3, five days before his paramilitary
forces abandoned Sloviansk, Kramatorsk
and other rebel strongholds in the north
of the province, Strelkov warned Moscow
that his troops were “ losing the will to
A military commander will never admit
such a thing in public unless his situation
is truly desperate. How desperate became
clear on Tuesday when Strelkov ’s troops
all headed south for the relative safety of
The Ukrainian army had been shelling
them in Sloviansk, but there was no major
Ukrainian offensive. The rebel fighters
just started pulling out of the city, and
those in other rebel-held northern towns
followed suit. Strelkov (who is actually
a Russian citizen named Igor Girkin)
was left scrambling to explain what was
happening in terms that made military
sense, and he did the best he could.
This may be telling President
Poroshenko what he most wants to know,
which is whether this week’s events really
constitute a turning point in the military
conflict in eastern Ukraine. The answer
appears to be yes: the morale of Strelkov ’s
troops is cracking as they realise the
motherland is really not going to send its
own army into eastern Ukraine to help
There never was mass support for the
pro-Russian revolution in Donetsk and
Luhansk provinces in April. Most people
there speak Russian, and they were
worried about where the real revolution in
Kiev was taking the country even before
Russian propaganda started telling them
that fascists had seized control of the
country and wanted to kill them. But they
did not actually want to join Russia.
There were no huge crowds when pro-
Russian rebels seized power in the east, no
lengthy occupations of public squares by
unarmed civilians, certainly no violence by
government forces. Heavily-armed groups
of masked men just appeared in the streets
and took over, declaring that they were
creating revolutionary regimes to save the
people from the fascists in Kiev.
Civilians in the east were sufficiently
worried about the intentions of the new
government in Kiev that they did not come
out in the streets to oppose this armed
takeover, but they never came out in large
numbers to support it either. This was more
evident than ever on Wednesday, when
Pavel Gubarev was promising to defend
the “whole perimeter” of the city and
drown the Ukrainian army in blood.
Donetsk has almost two million
inhabitants. The crowd at Gubarev ’s rally
was a couple of thousand at most. Donetsk
will not become a new Stalingrad.
So, a prediction: The fighting in eastern
Ukraine will not go on for months more,
and there will be no heroic rebel last stand
in Donetsk or Luhansk. The Ukrainian
army is already encircling both cities, but
it will not launch a major assault on them
either. It will just keep the pressure up, and
the rebel forces will melt away.
Western countries will repair their
relations with Moscow as fast as possible,
since they do not want a new Cold War.
But Ukrainians will not forget that
Russia seized Crimea and sponsored an
armed separatist rebellion in their eastern
provinces. President Vladimir Putin has
managed to turn Russia’s biggest European
neighbour into a permanent enemy.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Eastern Ukraine fighting unlikely to drag on
Pro-Russian separatist fighters from the so-called Battalion Vostok (East) travel on armoured vehicles in the eastern Ukrainian
city of Donetsk.
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
Man has not changed much since biblical
days. He is still building towers to get to
Utopia. He still thinks his ways are better
than God’s ways. He still thinks he has
human rights regardless of anyone else. He
still thinks he can pull himself out of the
mire of sin with his own bootlaces.
An evangelist had spent much time
endeavouring to lead a cabinet maker to
a faith in Christ. After admiring a piece
of furniture the cabinet maker had spent
much time planing and sanding until it
looked perfect the evangelist picked up a
plane and placed it on the smooth surface
of the finished object and was about to
It was obvious what would have
happened had not the cabinet maker called
“It is finished! You can do no more to
The evangelist replied “And you can do
no more to Christ ’s finished work on the
cross to provide your salvation. Just believe
that it is all done for you.’’
John Greenleaf Whittier said it well
when he wrote:
“ Who fathoms the eternal thought?
Who talks of scheme and plan?
The L ord is God! He needeth not,
The poor device of man.
No offering of my own I have,
Nor works my faith to prove;
I can but give the gifts He gave,
And plead His love for love.”
Remember Christ ’s cry on the cross
recorded in John 19. 30 “It is finished.’’
His work on earth was finished. His work
of salvation was finished. Man could add
nothing more to it. Only believe it.
R E Honey,
Reefton Union Church.
It is finished, man can add no more
Zoran Radosavljevic and
omplaining they had
worked without pay for
months late last year,
employees of the Serbian
farming company Agroziv
staged a short strike in
January. Why should they work for no
money, they said. The company, a poultry
producer in the north of the country, was
short of cash and pleaded for more time to
pay wages, workers said.
“The management told us, ‘Please be
patient for another two weeks,’” said
Vesna Srdic, a packaging worker with the
firm. “ We waited and nothing happened.
Some workers grew so desperate they
were buying bread on credit from local
bakers. But after some months even bakers
refused to give them bread for nothing.”
Patience ran out on June 4. Using chains
and padlocks, Agroziv employees locked
every door and gate they could find on
company property. Then they blocked
a main road leading to the border with
Romania for two hours.
“My salary is 29,000 dinars ($343) a
month and I haven’t received a penny since
January. I ’m drowning in debt,” Milica
Milkovic, 52, said last month. The mother
of two, dressed in a faded red t-shirt was
waving a banner that read, “ We want
answers.” Agroziv did not respond to
requests for comment.
Such scenes are surprisingly common
in the Balkans, where wages are often the
first expense companies freeze when times
are tough. Legal loopholes, inefficient
courts and poor financial super vision allow
struggling firms to skip paying wages,
sometimes for months on end.
Since jobs are scarce, thousands of
workers in the countries spawned by
Yugoslavia’s bloody breakup in the 1990s
regularly work for nothing — in the
hope that employers will eventually pay
up. The phenomenon is growing in some
places and contributing to social unrest in
the region. Earlier this year protesters in
Bosnia torched government buildings up
and down the country. Protests in Croatia
and Serbia have also become common,
though not violent.
Most former Yugoslav republics,
including European Union members
Slovenia and Croatia, have yet to
overcome problems born of the business
practices they inherited in the 1990s.
In socialist Yugoslavia, the State owned
all medium-sized and large companies
and controlled salaries through a central
payments system. With the federation’s
collapse, new and newly privatised
companies tried to expand without
much capital. Short of cash, some began
delaying payments to suppliers, tax
offices and workers. State-owned firms
and institutions began doing the same,
exploiting a lack of financial oversight to
pick and choose their obligations.
In Croatia, the authorities are now
trying to enforce more financial discipline.
Finance Minister Boris Lalovac, speaking
at a conference in April, said employers
were failing to pay mandatory health
and pension contributions for more than
200,000 workers among the country’s 4.4
Kresimir Sever, a union leader in
Croatia, estimates some 70,000 workers
in Croatia are facing delays in wages. “In
most cases workers wait too long before
filing for bankruptcy (of their company),
figuring they are better off having any
kind of job and no salary rather than
losing everything,” Sever said. “ In time,
the company ’s assets melt and when the
bankruptcy process begins, they (the
workers) really do end up with nothing. ”
The situation is similar in Serbia, the
most populous country to emerge from
Yugoslavia with 7.2 million people. Ranka
Savic of Serbia’s Association of Free and
Independent Unions said that at least
70,000 workers have not received wages
for six months or more.
The country, which this year began talks
on joining the European Union, still has
153 State companies, partly kept afloat by
annual subsidies worth more than $1b.
In February, some 1400 workers at the
State-owned Jumko clothing manufacturer
from the southern city of Vranje protested
about unpaid wages by blocking Serbia’s
main north-south highway for a day.
They claimed they were owed seven
months’ wages and mandatory health
Two months later the Jumko workers
received 5000 dinars ($59) each, the
government said. In May the workers
again blocked the highway to demand all
overdue wages and social benefits, as well
as direct talks with the government. There
has been no progress since then. Officials
at Jumko did not respond to phone calls
and e-mails seeking comment.
Serbia’s new government, which took
office in April, has vowed to reform laws
on labour, bankruptcy and privatisation
to improve the business climate and
attract investors. It has also pledged to
end subsidies for State-owned enterprises.
Draft laws are being debated; the
government says it hopes to adopt them
by the end of July.
Slovenia, which joined the EU in 2004
and the euro zone in 2007, has seen the
number of workers not receiving salaries
rise steadily over the past five years. There
were 3601 cases of delays, partial payment
or non-payment of wages in 2013, up from
843 in 2008, according to state labour
inspectorate data provided in June by the
trade union ZSSS.
The plight of most unpaid employees
goes undetected until they go on strike.
Workers still prefer to keep turning
up, despite not being paid, rather than
lose their jobs, said Belgrade sociology
professor Zoran Stojiljkovic. “A common
feature of the entire Western Balkans
is the people’s capacity to put up with a
lot of things for a long time. The limit of
endurance is breached only when one can
no longer pay the bills,” he said.
The problem is not confined to the
region’s smaller countries. In Bulgaria, a
nation of 7.3m which joined the EU in
2007 and has a $50b economy, businesses
at the end of May owed 77.2m levs
($53.9m) in delayed salary payments, the
labour ministry said. Trade unions dispute
the figure, saying the true amount is
“ I can assure you that we check any
complaint (for unpaid salaries) received
at the inspectorate,” the State labour
inspectorate’s spokeswoman Dina
Nikolay Nenkov, the vice president of
Bulgaria’s largest trade union CITUB, said
his organisation calculates unpaid wages
are around $83m or more. He said one
company that had struggled to pay salaries
was Remotex, a privately-owned industrial
Based in the southern town of Radnevo,
Remotex used to be one of Bulgaria’s
largest repairers of equipment for heavy
mining, transport and energy industries.
According to local union official Boyka
Boeva, unpaid wages at the firm amount
to 5m levs ($3.48m).
Luca Visentini of the Brussels-based
European Trade Unions Confederation
said non-payment of employees had been
relatively rare in EU countries, but that
instances were now cropping up in crisis-
hit southern states such as Spain, Portugal,
Italy and Greece.
One of the key problems in the Balkans
is that workers have little bargaining
power. Unemployment in Croatia reached
a 12-year high in March, with 380,000
people of working age without a job and
an unemployment rate of nearly 23%.
It has since fallen to under 20%, in part
thanks to seasonal employment in the
summer tourism industry. In Serbia, the
unemployment rate stood at 20.8% for the
first quarter, the last available data.
At the same time, tax collection is
dysfunctional, with some companies not
paying dues for months or even years.
Payment for goods is also far slower than
in the west.
“ It ’s almost impossible to explain to
someone from the west,” Ante Babic,
secretary-general of the Foreign Investors
Council in Croatia said. “ But it’s not
surprising that companies are not paying
workers when you see that they can afford
not to pay taxes or for the goods they
bought. Control over salary payments is
Predrag Bejakovic of the Institute of
Public Finances, an economic think-tank
in Croatia’s capital Zagreb, said that not
paying taxes is still seen as “resourceful
rather than immoral.”
Struggling private employers also know
that commercial and administrative courts
are painfully slow. Recent EU data ranked
Croatia’s judiciary last out of the bloc’s 28
members in terms of effectiveness.
Croatian textile businessman Nikola
Mikic, who owns Estare Culto, a well-
established brand from Zagreb, said his
company is owed 14m kuna ($2.5m)
by various retailers and other private
companies — but is struggling to collect it.
That has left him unable to pay suppliers
or his own workers regularly, although he
says he is still “trying to pay salaries every
month, in several instalments”.
He said that even after taking legal
action he would be unlikely to recover the
money. “ In this system you are more likely
to retire before you get justice through
Some progress is being made. After it
joined the EU last July, Croatia published
a “name and shame” list of firms that it
said owed tax payments. The government
also wants to create a system electronically
linking tax, health and pension data, and is
starting to tackle legal loopholes.
Until recently, companies registered
as “ limited” could not be prosecuted if
they continued operating while insolvent
instead of filing for bankruptcy. A change
to company law now makes it possible to
take action against errant managers and
members of super visory boards.
“ You can see a strong wish to introduce
order, but there has been so much neglect,
so much abuse that changes are very slow,”
said a State labour inspector who declined
to be named. — Reuters
All work, no pay
Milica Milkovic, centre, a packaging worker with Serbian farming company Agroziv, speaks with her colleagues in front of the
Agroziv factory in Zitist.
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