Metalworkers' union to block Slovak borders

IMF News, 1 March 2001

KOVO will halt traffic on the busiest border crossings between the Slovak Republic and its neighbours.

SLOVAK REPUBLIC: The Metalworkers' Federation of the Slovak Republic, KOVO, is setting up a protest blockade of some of the country's border crossings on Friday, March 2, in an attempt to force the government and employers to increase wages.

According to an official statement, KOVO plans to halt traffic on the five busiest border crossings—one with the Czech Republic, two with Poland and two with Hungary—from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 2.

At least 400 people are expected at each border crossing, and farmers and unions in textile companies have announced they will also support the protest.

“By means of this protest, we want to force employers to increase wages by at least the rate of inflation,” says the president of KOVO, Emil Machyna. The union is requesting a wage increase of up to 10,350 Slovaka Koruny (US$220) or eight per cent. Wages above SKK 10,350 should rise by an equal sum of SKK 1,100 ($23).

KOVO accused the employers of violating agreements when on Monday, February 26, the chief negotiator for the employers' Association of the Engineering Industry, Juraj Borgula, attacked the agreement achieved between KOVO and the Association the week before. The agreement included an 8 per cent rise in average wages and an 11 per cent rise in minimum tariff wages.

The agreement should have gone into effect on March 1.