More than 1,000 employees of U.S. Steel Košice demanded higher tariff salaries on May 17 during a protest organised by the local trade union organisation.
They had already declared a strike alert back in April due to their dissatisfaction with the salary hike negotiations.
“It publicly voiced support for employees, who want higher tariff salaries than offered by the employer, which represents an average of just €20 per employee,” said Juraj Varga of the trade union organisation of U.S. Steel Košice, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
The representatives of employees want the tariff salaries to be increased by €70.
Strike is still an option
Since the negotiating parties failed to reach an agreement in April, a mediator chosen by the Labour Ministry was invited to join the talks.
“If the negotiating parties fail to make a deal, even when the mediator is present, the process will be declared unsuccessful, and the representatives of employees can then opt for the last option: declare a strike,” the trade union organisation said, as quoted by TASR.
The next meeting is scheduled for May 21.
Bad situation in steel industry
The company’s management points to the worsening situation on the steel market. Due to these conditions, the steelworks decided to introduce a four-day working week in May.
There is a possibility that the four-day week will continue in June.
“We will not comment on the activities of trade unions,” said U.S. Steel Košice’s spokesperson Ján Bača, as quoted by TASR, adding that they received detailed information about the current situation on the market.
Bača also referred to the recent statement of the European Steel Association (Eurofer), which claimed that the European steelmaking sector may face a new crisis. Among the factors impacting the current situation are surging import volumes, stalling economic growth, high and volatile raw material costs and sharply growing carbon costs.
Although the trade unionists are aware of the difficult situation within the sector, they believe employees deserve adequate salaries, as reported by TASR.