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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 hour.
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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