U.S. Steel signs new collective agreement

Trade unions describe it as full of compromises.

U.S. Steel Košice workers have announced a strike alert, demanding a salary increase. U.S. Steel Košice workers have announced a strike alert, demanding a salary increase. (Source: TASR)

The representatives of Košice-based steelworks U.S. Steel Košice and the local trade unions have made a deal over several disputed parts of the new collective agreement, thanks to a mediator.

The agreement should be signed on August 31, the TASR newswire reported.

The previous collective agreement expired on June 30. Since the previous 25 rounds of negotiations brought no deal, the trade unions declared a strike alert in late July. Eventually, a mediator was invited to join the talks.

Full of compromises

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The agreement contains many compromises made by both parties, said Juraj Varga, head of the OZ KOVO trade unions in U.S. Steel Košice.

“Most basic organisations have approved it, which means that everything should be ready,” Varga said, as quoted by TASR. “There are some comments, but these should be settled on Monday, and the agreement should be signed.”

The most disputed issue was the weekly working hours. The company wanted to increase them from 35.5 hours to 37.5 hours, but the trade unionists opposed it. In the end, if the employer needs to extend the working hours due to operational reasons, it will be possible to apply the change for no more than two months.

“Further extension of the working time will have to be approved by the trade unions organisations, but for no more than three months,” Varga explained, as quoted by TASR.

This means that it will be possible to extend the working time for five months in total, with a surcharge amounting to 11.2 percent of the tariff wage, he added.

Related articleU.S. Steel speeds up the reduction of staff Read more 

Moreover, the extension will not concern certain sectors, mostly those with the hardest work.

No salary raise

Another compromise concerns the mass layoffs, part of which is also the protection of workers close to retirement.

Moreover, the salaries will not be hiked this year.

“The zero salary hike is understandable as we know which situation our company has been in since last May,” Varga said, as quoted by TASR, referring to the complicated situation on the steel market.

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