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Merkur to Cut Workforce by 1,000

Naklo, 02 September (STA) - The group around the debt-ridden hardware retailer Merkur, which employs around 4,800 people in Slovenia and abroad, will cut its workforce by some 1,000 people by the end of 2012, Merkur CEO Bojan Knuplez said on Thursday. The move is a part of a cost-cutting plan that is yet to be confirmed by creditors and supervisors.

After Knuplez revealed for public broadcaster TV Slovenija on Wednesday that 1,080 of the group's employees were redundant, today's announcement is an official confirmation that there will be lay-offs.

Which of the group's three divisions - Merkur, Mersteel and Big Bang - will be affected and how the plan will be implemented will be known in the coming months, Merkur's spokesperson Rok Istenic told the STA.

He said that two years was a long period, so the plan would to a certain extent be implemented through "soft methods" such as retirement and consensual termination of job contracts.

Head of the in-house trade union Mateja Tavcar told the STA today that the union had not been informed of the number of redundant workers or possible reduction in the workforce. Unofficially, the supervisors and the worker's council will be informed of the cost-cutting plan on 13 September.

Tavcar said that most of Merkur's employees work in retail, where the number of workers is possibly even insufficient.

She said that out of 2,500 Merkur's employees in Slovenia, between 1,200 and 1,400 people work in retail. The rest work in back offices. Another 250 and 500 people work in Mersteel (wholesale of metals) and BigBang (electronics stores), respectively.

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