Unions protest perks as VW Slovakia fights for new recruits

By bne IntelliNews September 13, 2016

Trade unions at Volkswagen’s Bratislava plant will stage a protest on September 13 against what they see as discrimination against long-term employees.

In the increasingly tricky hunt for qualified staff in a tightening labour market, VW management is offering newcomers benefits, which include six months free transport and a cash bonus of €500 as they start. Long-term employees are not entitled to such perks.

In line with other countries in the region, the tightening Slovak labour market is seen as a risk to investment and economic expansion as employers struggle to find qualified workers. Tight conditions on the labour market pressure firms to distribute more earnings to employees and thus cut their own profit margins.

VW Slovakia trade union head Zoroslav Smolinsky said he expects some 1,000 people to appear at the factory gate to join the protest, TASR reports. “If the personnel situation in, say, one month gets even worse, will they perhaps offer food for free to the new people? ... The mood on production lines really isn’t good,” he declared.

Volkswagen is one of Slovakia’s biggest exporters and employers. Around 9,900 people are employed by the German carmaker in the country.

The auto sector is the engine of the Slovak economy, representing nearly half of industrial output in the country. Slovakia also hosts plants run by South Korea's Kia Motors and France's PSA Peugeot Citroen. Jaguar Land Rover will also place a factory in the country.

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