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Reader feedback: Here is your explanation

Re: Strike costs railways Sk150 million, Business briefs, Feb 17 - 23, Vol 9, No 6

Whether or not the strike was legal is still being reviewed by the courts, but the argument is that stopping the railways disrupts economic activity on a much greater scale than the unions' grievances address - i.e. that metalworkers were not striking, but a prolonged action would put them all out of work for lack of raw materials.

In terms of above-standard rights, railway workers receive monthly compensation well above the national average, as well as subsidised holidays, free rail travel for immediate family and dependants, and various other bonuses and perquisites.

In addition, the railway is grossly overstaffed, but Labour Law regulations prevent any easy reduction of personnel. By "grossly overstaffed" I mean that the two Slovak rail companies employ around 40,000 people, while German rail, for example, employs 50,000, but operates a network 10 times larger.

The "special privileges" enjoyed by top railway management are even more advantageous, including monthly salaries that top Sk100,000. The average national monthly wage at the moment is around Sk13,000. I work near the ZSR headquarters in Bratislava, and the street in front of the building is usually lined with new black Audis.

Fero Nagy

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