Representatives of employees at the Volkswagen Slovakia plant in Bratislava are readying themselves as of April 30 for a potential full-blown strike after failing to reach a deal with management on the terms of a new collective agreement. According to the trade union, the sticking point lies in employees’ salaries which the company wants to have reduced by 4 percent; accompanied by a commensurately shorter work week.

The plant's leadership is pushing to cut working hours from 37.5 hours to 36 hours per week, trade union's head Zoroslav Smolinský told the TASR newswire. However, VWS has also worked out an arrangement whereby the workers would get their salaries for 36 hours while continuing to work 37.5 hours a week, he added.

“Obviously, we couldn't assent to that,” Smolinský said. “We view this as an attempt to ridicule the employees of the plant which is the most successful in Slovakia and one of the best of all of the company's plants. We'd be the only plant within the company to have real salaries dropped, which we can't let happen, because we're defending the honour of our people,” said Smolinský.

Meanwhile, agreements on other provisions of the collective agreement have been reached. The new agreement was supposed to come into effect as of April 1. The time and date of the strike has yet to be announced.

Trade unionists in VW Slovakia first announced strike alert on March 21, the SITA newswire wrote. Smolinský admitted they wanted to improve the negotiation position before talks with the management. Following three weeks of fruitless wage bargaining, the talks continued in presence of a mediator.

(Source: TASR, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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