Škoda Auto step up strike threat

Unions at Volkswagen’s Czech manufacturer Škoda Auto are threatening to go on strike, claiming that the company doesn’t show enough interest in its employees, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Thursday.

Photo: Škoda AutoPhoto: Škoda Auto If the unions go ahead with the strike, production of the biggest Czech carmaker could be suspended for up to three weeks.

“If the company doesn’t hear our demands, we will interrupt production for 10 to 20 days, to claim back our employees’ time-off,” Škoda union’s quarterly newsletter wrote in its most recent issue.

The key issue in the negotiations between the unions and the company’s management is working and overtime conditions. While the company needs to maintain weekend production, unions want to cut back on overtime work, claiming that the employees are working extra hours at the expense of their family life.

According to the head of the unions, Jaroslav Povšík, the unions are not completely against overtime work, but it depends on how much the company is willing to pay.

The unions have also raised the problem of uneven salaries between plants in the Czech Republic and Germany. Workers in the German branches of Volkswagen are currently demanding a wage hike of 6 percent.

To reach the same salary as their German colleagues, Škoda Auto would have to increase their wages by 20 percent.

In an interview for the daily Hospodářské noviny this week, Škoda Auto’s Povšík said he was worried about the future of the company. Mr Povšík claimed that the production move of Škoda Superb to Germany is a done deal, despite claims from Škoda Auto management to the contrary.

Škoda Auto is the Czech Republic’s biggest exporter. Its business has increased strongly in recent years, with annual sales surpassing 1.1 million vehicles.