Unionists threaten strike at machinery firm Martinmetal

Employees of the ailing machinery company Martinmetal held a protest action on March 1. Participants in the 750-strong rally marched through the northern Slovak town of Martin and blocked one of the town's busiest crossings.

The boss of the mighty KOVO steelworkers' trade union, Emil Machyna, explained that the protest was designed to highlight unsolved regional problems and the dreadful economic situation at Martinmetal.

Currently, 750 Martinmetal employees are at home waiting for an invitation to return to work. Their January wages were reduced to 3,000-4,000 Sk, about 50-60% of their full salaries, while they have received nothing for February. Although the union and the company are involved in a collective bargaining process, the union wants to bring in a negotiator. Machyna said the Martinmetal employees would occupy the factory and close it down with a strike if no progress were made in the talks.

In mid-February, dissatisfied metalworkers from ailing machinery companies across Slovakia protested in front of the Government Office in Bratislava. Despiteheavy snowfall, about 2,500 people turned out to protest the economic policy of the government, which, as unions claim, is solving the nation's unfavorable economic situation at the expense of citizens by increasing living costs.

The trade union movement advocates solving Slovakia's economic crisis by teaming up with foreign strategic partners, economizing production, making ownership relations more transparent and including blue-collar workers in the decision-making process.

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