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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Montenegro Smelter Lays Off 20%

PODGORICA, Montenegro -- Loss-making aluminum smelter KAP, owned by Oleg Deripaska, will temporarily suspend 20 percent of its work force, sending 450 workers on mandatory leave in response to falling global metals demand, union officials said Wednesday.

Kombinat Aluminijuma Podgorica, or KAP, Montenegro's top exporter with 2,100 workers, announced the suspension a day after a court issued a ban on its exports following demands by KAP's creditors to collect debts.

KAP has already defaulted on tax, duties, VAT and other payments to the state and state-owned companies, and in March the government offered KAP guarantees for a 20 million euro loan if En+ Group, part of Deripaska's Basic Element holding, dropped a court case against Montenegro.

En+ brought a suit before a German arbitration court last year seeking 300 million euros ($397 million) in damages over an alleged false evaluation of KAP assets at the time of sale.

In a statement Wednesday, KAP's trade union urged directors to provide assurances to workers that they will return to their jobs and to make sure that while on leave, the workers will get 80 percent of their wages.

"The trade union also suggested that all employees, including the management, rotate in mandatory leave," trade union leader Zoran Milosevic said.