June 10, 2019 / 2:51 PM / 3 months ago

Polish coal unions to protest against planned dismissal of JSW CEO

* Daniel Ozon has clashed before with energy minister

* Disagreements centre on strategy, use of JSW money

* JSW supervisory board to meet on Tuesday

By Agnieszka Barteczko

WARSAW, June 10 (Reuters) - Trade unions at Poland’s state-run JSW plan to protest in front of the energy ministry building in Warsaw on Tuesday against the expected dismissal of Daniel Ozon, the chief executive at the coking coal miner.

Ozon, who has been CEO since 2017, has been popular with shareholders and trade unions, but has fallen out with the government over strategy and already survived a previous attempt to oust him.

“There is a protest planned as we have to oppose the state interfering at a public company - we are hearing about another attempt to dismiss the CEO. We expect a few hundred people to come,” Dominik Kolorz, regional head of the Solidarity union, said.

JSW’s supervisory board meets on Tuesday and is expected to dismiss Ozon, he said.

A document seen by Reuters shows the meeting’s main agenda item is board changes at JSW.

The term of the current management board, including Ozon, ends on June 26. A process for selecting new management is underway, with the deadline for submissions midday on Tuesday.

The energy ministry does not approve of Ozon’s plan to take a controlling stake in Australia’s Prairie Mining, which owns two mining projects in Poland.

A source close to the energy ministry said it did not want Prairie’s foreign investors, who would become minority shareholders under the proposed deal, to have access to a state-run firm in a strategically important sector.

Ozon has also rebuffed some of energy minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski’s proposals for JSW money to be used to support national projects, including the construction of a coal-fuelled power plant in Ostroleka and taking over a thermal coal mine from troubled state-run utility Tauron.

“We were asked to consider an investment in Brzeszcze coal mine. I refused. Our strategy assumes that JSW focuses on coking coal,” Ozon told Reuters. He declined to comment about his potential dismissal on Tuesday.

JSW and the energy ministry also declined to comment on any imminent changes in the management board. (Editing by Barbara Lewis and Mark Potter)

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