Trade unions seek agreement in U.S. Steel Košice

THE BOARD of the KOVO trade union is sensitive to impending layoffs at the U.S. Steel plant in Košice, and is seeking to join U.S. Steel’s own trade union in talks with the factory’s executives or with politicians.

U.S. Steel in KošiceU.S. Steel in Košice (Source: TASR)

“It’s a major employer, and each instance of layoffs affects not only KOVO, but the entire region,” KOVO board chairman Emil Machyna said after the board’s session in Žilina, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “Our role doesn’t only lie in securing higher wages but also in protecting jobs. So, at the very least we’ll hold talks with U.S. Steel in an effort to stave off the layoffs. And if it does happen, then only within the scope of the collective agreement or affecting people who are retiring anyway.”

Things are complicated and tense right now, partly with the upcoming Christmas season in mind, added head of the U.S. Steel’s trade union Mikuláš Hintoš.

The Korzár regional daily reported last week that U.S. Steel Košice is looking at a plan to lay off up to 15 percent of its workforce, or more than 1,500 workers. This downsizing supposedly affects mainly white-collar workers. Korzár reports that it is likely the Americans want to focus on their domestic operations, which are currently facing stiff competition from cheaper Chinese steel and U.S. Steel has to cut production.

U.S. Steel management did not state how many people would be involved in the job cuts. There were 17,000 workers 15 years ago when US Steel purchased the former Eastern Slovak Ironworks (VŠZ), and part of the takeover was assurances from U.S. that total employment levels would remain close to that level for the first 10 years, TASR wrote.

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