U.S. Steel Košice unionists have launched petition

Trade unions demand support for the European steelworks and a fairer business environment.

U.S. Steel Košice.U.S. Steel Košice. (Source: Korzár)

In response to the U.S. Steel Košice (USSK) company's decision to cut 2,500 jobs in the steelmaking plant before 2021, unionists launched the petition on July 23, the Korzár daily reported.

It requests better support for the European steel industry and a fairer business environment in Europe.

“We have been heard little,” said Juraj Varga, head of the trade unions in USSK, as quoted by Korzár.

Trade unions have instead turned to the cabinet ministers and PM Peter Pellegrini (Smer) with their demands.

Issue to be broached in Brussels

Read also:U.S. Steel Košice to ax 2,500 jobs Read more 

“Not only do we need to be heard in these times but we need measures to get through this period,” Varga said, as quoted by Korzár.

They want the Slovak government to create better conditions for steelworkers not only in Slovakia, but also in Europe.

Pellegrini has already said that Slovakia is ready to bring the issue to the table in Brussels, the Trend weekly reported.

USSK has already shortened the working week to four days and cut workers' wages on Fridays by 40 percent. The shorter week is expected to continue in August, Varga said.

Trade unions are doing their best to avoid mass layoffs, which may have fatal social impacts on the region, he added.

“It is assumed that the solution to the reduction of employees will be motivational programmes as the collective agreement suggests,” Varga added, as quoted by Korzár.

U.S. Steel Košice vs families

Read also:A working week at U.S. Steel will be shorter again Read more 

The Košice-based steelworks understands the petition as a natural reaction, adding the situation is “very complicated and also requires quick steps on the side of politicians”.

The company admitted that its decision will have an impact on thousands of families in the region but the survival of USSK is a priority.

“We must get ready for the future,” said USSK head James Bruno, as quoted by Korzár. “Besides, the competition is very tough in today's unequal conditions.”

In the meantime, other trade unions joined the petition as well. These include unionists in Žiar nad Hronom and Krompachy, the Železiarne Podbrezová company, and the OFZ Istebné ferroalloy manufacturer.

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