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Police presence was high in Dunaújváros on Friday night after dozens of people, appearing to be security personnel, tried to get into Dunaferr steel plant, Hungary’s largest steelworks. As it turned out, the reason for the conflict was a legal dispute between the owners of the Dunaferr company.

According to reports, 50 security personnel in black uniforms appeared in Dunaújváros on Friday night in connection with a dispute between the owners of Dunaferr over who controls the company’s management. Dunaújváros police stepped in to defuse the situation, closing many of the roads stopping and performing background checks on everyone.

Fejér County police headquarters told MTI they had received information before Friday’s upheaval that illegal action was planned in the town. In one instance, the police said they took action after discovering “a device that presented a danger to public safety.” The police said otherwise that no criminal action took place and order was soon restored in Dunaújváros.

Dunaferr Unions Protest for Wage Payments, New Collective Agreement
Dunaferr Unions Protest for Wage Payments, New Collective Agreement

Unions of steelmaker Dunaferr in Dunaújváros, in central Hungary, staged a demonstration demanding that the company should pay employees’ wages and negotiate a new collective agreement, on Friday. The company unilaterally terminated the collective agreement on August 14, has not started talks on a new deal with employees, and has delayed payment of last month’s […]Continue reading

The two main players of the ownership dispute are the management (whose mandate has expired) appointed by the majority-owner Russian state bank Vnyesekonombank (VEB) and the Ukrainian minority owners of the steelworks. The faceoff between the Russian and the Ukrainian parties has been escalating for the past year, adding to the woes of the steelworks.

Following the conflict, the Dunaferr group published a statement on its official website saying that a “mercenary team” working for Dunaferr’s Ukrainian minority owner had made “verbally and legally aggressive” moves in recent months.

“A group of men with shaved heads and a militant stance was arrested by the authorities on Friday evening,” the statement said.

The statement added that the management of the steelworks had previously been informed through unofficial channels that the minority ownership had occupied factories in Ukraine using similar methods.

Worry Forms Over Important Dunaferr Steelworks
Worry Forms Over Important Dunaferr Steelworks

Worrying developments are gathering over Dunaújváros’ Dunaferr steel works, the most important employer and economic player of the city and surrounding areas. After production had slowed down, ISD Dunaferr Ltd. delayed employee salaries and terminated the collective agreement. In the latest turn, trade union leaders have been fired and barred from the premises. The steelworks, […]Continue reading

Tamás Pintér, the Jobbik mayor of Dunaújváros, told 24.hu that he was notified from the factory on Friday around 6 pm that security services were coming from Budapest.

In recent months, the Ukrainian owners and, on their behalf, a lawyer named István Mikó, tried to access the territory of the steelworks using fake documents, said Pintér.

Regarding the incident, István Mikó later sent a statement to news portal Index. He claims to be the representative acting on behalf of the majority owner of Dunaferr, even though, according to the company’s management, he represents the Ukrainian minority owner.

According to Mikó, (instead of the previously reported 50), 500 security personnel were present in Dunaújváros from several security companies, in an attempt to take over the area of ​​the property and thus prevent the liquidation of the Dunaferr company.  Mikó also emphasized that this was not their last attempt, and that next time they would come with an even larger team of 600-800 men.

In reaction, local Jobbik MP Gergely Kálló called on the government to make use of good relations between Hungary and Russia to help Dunaferr emerge from near-bankruptcy and to mediate a peaceful change of ownership.

Head of national security committee: incident poses a national security risk

Meanwhile, opposition Jobbik lawmaker János Stummer, who heads parliament’s national security committee,  said the incident carried both national security and economic risks that are worthy of investigation.

“What happened on Friday at [steelmaker] Dunaferr in Dunaújváros poses serious national security risks,” Stummer told a press conference.

Stummer vowed to put the matter on the agenda at the next meeting of the national security committee at which the heads of the Information Office and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution would be invited.

Stummer also called on the ruling Fidesz party director, Gábor Kubatov, saying that he should “put his dogs on the leash and stop threatening the people of Dunaújváros.” Stummer added that locals did not want their town to be invaded and overseen by “mercenary armies” protecting certain political and business interests.

In the past years, many reports have surfaced claiming that István Mikó is closely tied to Kubatov.

The Jobbik politician accused the Fidesz party directorate of being behind the actions taken in the town.

Later, Gábor Kubatov responded to Stummer’s allegations on social media, firmly denying his involvement in the incident.

Kubatov says the opposition politician only became the head of the National Security Committee due to “unfortunate coincidences.”

“Not only is he unfit to head the National Security Committee, he is unfit to even be a night watchman,” the Fidesz party director said.

Featured photo illustration by Lajos Soós/MTI