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From: The Socialist issue 380, 12 February 2005: Defend pensions: All out on 23 March

Search site for keywords: Slovakia - Textile - Shop Stewards - Labour

Slovakia: Multinational victimises trade unionists

JOZEF KRNCAN has been made redundant twice by Austrian based multinational Neusiedler/Mondi. The company sacked him from its a paper factory in Ruzomberok, Slovakia, in September 2004 for organising a petition demanding higher wages.

Jozef was a representative of the 'official' trade union KOZ and a member of the KOZ shop stewards committee in the factory. He discovered that the trade union official of KOZ had countersigned his redundancy notice handed out by management on the shop stewards committee.

As a reaction to this betrayal by KOZ a group of workers started organising a new trade union, ZOO Papier. Management at Neusiedler sacked another 13 workers whom they suspected where involved in setting up this trade union.

Last week Jozef Krncan was sacked a second time, in which the hand of Neusiedler Mondi looms large. After his first redundancy he found a new job as a skilled printer at the Texicom textile printing factory in Ruzomberok. However, the factory management sacked him after reported pressure from Neusiedler Mondi on the German owner of Texicom, Mr Koch.

The textile printing factory was not obliged to give a precise reason for making him redundant because the six months trial period was not over yet. But Jozef has heard of regular phone calls made by Neusiedler management to his new employer. Was Mr Koch put under huge pressure?

The board of directors of Neusiedler reads like a who's who of Austrian capitalism. Veit Sorger, who presides over the supervisory board of the Neusiedler factory in Ruzomberok, is, when in Vienna, the well respected president of the 'Industriellenvereinigung' (or IV) one of the main employers' federations.

The new trade union, ZOO Papier, is legal according to Slovakian labour law and has been recognised as such by the Slovakian Labour and Social Affairs ministry. Yet the management refuses to come to the negotiating table.

The five workers who organised the petition demanding higher wages have been taken to court by management. They received the summons for a first hearing of the case on Monday 31 January. Mondi bussiness papier SCP is suing them for damaging the company's name. It demands a public apology and 20 million Slovak Kroner (Euro 525,469 or 363,016) in damages.

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