Volkswagen Slovakia workers to strike for wage hike

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BRATISLAVA: Workers at Volkswagen Slovakia are set to strike on Tuesday over unmet demands for a 16 percent pay rise from the country’s largest private employer, a union official said Monday.

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Trade union chief Zoroslav Smolinsky at the VW plant in the Slovak capital Bratislava said that up to 90 percent of it 12,300 employees are expected to down tools after company officials offered an 8.6-percent wage rise.

The average salary in the Bratislava VW plant is 1,800 euros ($2,014), excluding managers’ pay packets, according to the company. Slovakia’s average salary is 980 euros.

A eurozone member of 5.4 million people, Slovakia is the world’s largest car producer per capita.

“The strike will begin Tuesday morning,” Smolinsky told journalists, adding that “we are ready to strike for more than a day or two”.

“We will have to use all our rights, all of our options, and the last option is a full-fledged strike,” he added.
He called the strike an “historic event”, as it would be first time the Bratislava VW plant producing more than 1,000 cars a day would grind to a halt since it opened in 2002. The factory produced a total 388,697 vehicles last year.

“We have promised a pay hike of 4.5 percent and another 4.2 percent from the new year,” Volkswagen Slovakia CEO Ralf Sacht told reporters on Monday.

VW spokeswoman Lucia Kovarovic Makayova told AFP that union demands for a “16 percent salary increase is unacceptable as it would significantly jeopardise competitiveness and the future of the business as well as job stability”.

The Bratislava VW plant produces Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7 vehicles, among others.

The new Lamborghini Urus luxury cars will also be made using parts produced in Bratislava.

The five-millionth car produced in the plant rolled off the production line last Thursday. The white Touareg was produced for a customer in Australia.

Last year, just over a million automobiles were produced in Slovakian factories owned by Kia, Peugeot and VW.

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