More job cuts at steelmaker in Košice

New collective agreement signed.

U.S. Steel KošiceU.S. Steel Košice (Source: Courtesy of U.S. Steel Košice)

The steelmaker U.S. Steel Košice continued to reduce its labour force. After it scrapped 29 white-collar positions as of April 1, the steelmaker will cut another 29 jobs as of May 1 as part of its organisational changes. This time, workers attending to telecommunications facilities or those measuring noise levels or dust nuisance at workplaces will have to leave, the Sme daily wrote.

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“Alas, the situation has not changed,” said spokesman Ján Bača as cited by the daily, recalling the general situation on the market with steel products.

As of April 1 U.S. Steel Košice (USSK) scrapped 29 work positions in management and administration. Among those affected is Anton Jura, a senior consultant and the former head of Canadian U.S. Steel, or vice-president of USSK Vladimír Jacko. In the end only 16 people left the company as 13 of those let go accepted offers to work in blue-collar positions. Also now those, whose positions are going to be scrapped, were offered blue-collar jobs within USSK. 

Read also: Steelmaker in Košice cuts jobs Read more 

Meanwhile, the trade unions at USSK are unhappy about the most recent move, pointing out that the company did not consult the introduction of a new organisational structure with them sufficiently in advance, the TASR newswire reported. These measures appear to have been made without proper long-term planning, thereby creating an atmosphere of uncertainty among employees, said the boss of the local trade unions Mikuláš Hintoš.

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USSK and other steel plants suffer from the import of cheap steel, especially from China, and call for a halt of the flood of products from China and other countries unfairly sold in Europe at dumping prices.

New collective agreement signed

Representatives of USSK and social partners signed a collective agreement addressing labour legislation and wage issues for 2016-2020 on April 17.

Based on it the average wage in USSK, when it amounted to €1,570 in 2015, should increase by over 3 percent by 2020, Hintoš specified for the SITA newswire.

“We assess the signed collective agreement as a compromise suitable for the current period of time when metallurgy is not thriving on the market,” said Hintoš as cited by SITA, adding that they pushed the most for keeping the current working time that will remain unchanged until March 31, 2020, as well as other social benefits provided. They failed to achieve a flat increase of tariff wages. These will increase only for some categories.

The USSK management acknowledged the approach of social partners when searching for joint solutions. One of them is also a principle on whose basis also employees will benefit from better financial performance of the company. This should be in form of a higher variable payment and also of a one-off benefit when reaching set financial results.

“Also when remunerating employees greater stress would be put on their individual performance,” said USSK president Scott Buckiso, who was among the signatories of the agreement, as cited in the USSK press release.  

The new collective agreement, equally as the previous one, bans USSK mass lay-offs, i.e. laying-off more than 30 employees at once. Trade unions opine that USSK is avoiding this by scrapping of only 29 work positions during one month.

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