Slovakian trade union confronts Austrian multinational

MORE THAN 50 workers attended the first conference of the new trade union
"ZOO Papier" on Friday 21 January in Ruzomberok, central Slovakia. The workers
were in a combatative mood as they battle for union recognition and the
reinstatement of five sacked workers. Their fight against the aggressive
tactics of their employer, the Austrian multinational ‘Neusiedler/Mondi
business paper SCP a.s.’ started in September last year.

When the official trade union, ZV-ZO Drevo, repeatedly refused to take up
the demands of the workers on the shopfloor they decided to take action
themselves. One of the shop stewards, Jozef Krncan, together with four other
workers, launched a petition demanding a wage increase of 50 SK (£0.80) an

The petition was signed by 1,223 workers, the majority of the workforce.
Management reacted by sacking the organisers of the petition and the official
trade union threatened the workers, saying that signing the petition could
mean provoking "legal action" against them. The official redundancy notices
were handed out on 17 September and countersigned by the secretary of the
local shop stewards committee!

As a reaction to the outright betrayal of the official trade union the five
sacked workers started to organise their own trade union, "ZOO Papier". In the
space of a few weeks they organised a union in accordance with Slovak Labour
law and got it legally recognised by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry.

However, Neusiedler/Mondi management refuses to negotiate and has
threatened workers with dismissal if they join the new trade union. Management
sent out "heavies" to photograph workers who attended the second protest
meeting organised by ZOO Papier.

ZOO Papier has started a court case demanding to be recognised and be
invited to negotiations. Management, knowing it will lose in a court of law,
rejected the invitation and did not show up for the first hearing.

CWI representatives from the Czech Republic, Austria, and the CWI
headquarters in London attended the conference and will continue the
international solidarity campaign.

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