U.S. Steel trade unions disagree with further layoffs

Košice steelmaker continues to lay off employees gradually each month.

(Source: Courtesy of USSK)

As of August 1st, U.S Steel Košice will continue lay-offs with another 28 employees due to lose their jobs, the reason given being the unfavourable state of the steel market. Though trade unions argue that this reason has largely disappeared as the steelmaker has been moving into the black in the second quarter of 2016 and employees have been receiving a variable wage component based on profitability, the reduction of the labour force will happen again for a fourth month in a row.

The lay-offs affect mainly  economists, specialists, auditors, technical workers, payroll clerks and managers, the head of the local trade unions Mikuláš Hintoš commented, following talks held by the company’s Trade Union Council on July 13.

“Repeated cancelling of work positions does not apply to high-ranking managers,” said Hintoš to the TASR newswire.

Read also:Layoffs in USSK on the table of parliamentary committee Read more 

Trade unionists disagree with the employer’s intention to cancel 28 to 29 jobs each month, finding it to be a circumvention of the Labour Code’s provision on mass layoffs. The local labour office has to be notified of a mass layoff, which means 30 employees, and the 28 or 29 layoffs a month regime started in April. Meanwhile, the employer is avoiding a commitment agreed upon by the social partners (the so-called tripartite of labour, business and government) in the valid collective agreement, since it pledged itself not to apply the Labour Code's provision on the mass layoff during its validity, said Hintoš.

He added that the fact that the employer will split the layoffs until the end of the year so that it does not break the commitment agreed upon in the collective agreement is viewed by trade unions as purposeful and mean-spirited behaviour and a violation of the Labour Code.

“If the employer keeps on proceeding like this, we intend to turn to the Labour Inspectorate due to violation of labour regulations and ask the Labour, Social Affairs and the Family Ministry for a mediator,” said Hintoš, as quoted by TASR.

Based on the motion filed by the U.S. Steel Trade Union Council, the Labour Inspectorate in Košice found the employer repeatedly violating its duties in negotiating organisational changes, said Hintoš. He also pointed to the fact that the company did not take such drastic measures even in the most difficult times when the company had to limit its output.

“We remind government officials of the fact that it is high time to re-evaluate the Memorandum on Understanding they have signed,” Hintoš said.

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