One of the former meat industry giants – the 29. Novembar Company from Subotica – will close down after 134 years of existence, two bankruptcies and selling its machinery and equipment as scrap metal.
Back in the day, the company had close to 3,000 employees and exported meat and meat products all over Europe.
It was founded in 1885 by Rafael Hartmann and Wilhelm Conen. In 1925, the company exported 140,000 turkeys to the London market which marked the beginning of its export activities.
After the Second World War and nationalization, the company was given a new name in honour of a new state holiday – the Republic Day – which fell on 29th November, and in time had become one of the largest meat processing companies in the new state.
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The former employee, Marija Novakov says that in February 1984, the factory had the annual production of 3,500 tonnes of meat, of which 2,000 tonnes were exported to the US, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, Israel and Greece.
According to her, the problems began in the early 1990s with the collapse of Yugoslavia, because the factory’s production, that was originally designed to process the meat of 1,500 pigs and 200 heads of cattle, was reduced to ten per cent of its full capacity.
The first bankruptcy proceedings were initiated in 1998 when all 2,500 workers were dismissed.
In spite of that, in the year 2000, there were attempts to revitalize the factory, but debts were too high and in May 2009, the company was again declared bankrupt.
There were also several unsuccessful sales of the factory, including the one from 2016, when the company was not sold to the interested bidder, an Austrian subsidiary which traded in secondary raw materials.
A year later, the factory complex, as well as the company’s farm, silos and arable land were all sold.
The funds thus obtained were mostly used to settle tax debts, while the workers did not get anything. Many couldn’t get a new job due to their age or were not close to retirement age either.
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