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Rail union still ready to strike

THE RAILWAY network in Slovakia continues to face the threat of a strike despite ongoing negotiations between the Transport Ministry and one of the railway workers trade unions, the Odborové Združenie Železničiarov (OZZ), which announced a strike alert on December 4.

THE RAILWAY network in Slovakia continues to face the threat of a strike despite ongoing negotiations between the Transport Ministry and one of the railway workers trade unions, the Odborové Združenie Železničiarov (OZZ), which announced a strike alert on December 4.

On December 10 the union held another meeting with Transport Minister Ľubomír Vážny, but no significant change in its position resulted.

“We haven’t reached any agreement,” František Petroci, the head of the OZZ told the Hospodárske Noviny financial daily. “Prime Minister Robert Fico did not attend the meeting as we required.”

One of the union’s main concerns is that the global financial crisis might lead to job cuts on the railways. According to the unionists, 6,000 railway workers are in danger of lay-offs, wage cuts, and restriction of benefits stemming from collective agreements, the SITA newswire wrote. The government promised that there would be no job losses on the railways. But Petroci argued that a guarantee of employment is not the same as providing real jobs and that the union therefore wants the government to say whether there will be work for all the people who are not fired, the daily reported.

The union is also demanding measures to equalise the cost of railway transport in the transport market and a programme to renovate the railway network, SITA reported.

The railway companies expect goods transport to decrease by one fifth in 2009, with a resulting loss of about Sk3 billion (€99.5 million). If the state does not grant more money to the railways, they say they will not have enough to repay loans or interest on them.


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