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Trade union protest blocks borders

SIX BORDER crossings were temporarily blocked by trade union members on October 11 in a protest against the economic and social policies of the Slovak government.

SIX BORDER crossings were temporarily blocked by trade union members on October 11 in a protest against the economic and social policies of the Slovak government.

The protests were held at the border crossing at Petržalka-Berg to Austria, at the Drietoma and Makov crossings with the Czech Republic, the Šahy and Milhosť crossings to Hungary and the Tatranská Javorina crossing to Poland, the TASR newswire reported. The protesters stopped cars, handed out leaflets and provided small gifts to the drivers to serve as an apology for any travel delay.

Emil Machyna, the president of the KOVO metalworkers’ union, said the protest had support from trade unionists from Slovakia’s neighbours and was a way of showing discontent over the inability of Slovakia’s government to ensure a dignified social security system.

“The way that Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) leader Richard Sulík behaves in connection with the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) can only be compared to the Mečiar era, when Slovakia was excluded from both its NATO and EU integration efforts,” Machyna stated, as quoted by TASR.

The unions were also protesting against changes made to the Labour Code and the changes planned for the income tax and payroll levy system, including the so-called super-gross wage and a proposal made by the National Union of Employers (RÚZ) to reduce employers’ contribution rates to social insurance programmes.

“It is yet another measure aimed against employees,” Machyna said about the RÚZ proposal, adding that employers should be able to raise their employees’ salaries without affecting their social insurance benefits. Machyna added that based on Slovakia’s labour productivity, the country’s average wage of €780 should be equal to that of Malta, which is €1,200, stating that “it is high time the government stopped following the dictates of capitalism and started working on improving the situation for its citizens”, TASR wrote.

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