Škoda unions dismiss pay rise offer as derisive

Photo: Škoda Auto

Trade unions at the Czech Republic’s biggest exporter Škoda Auto have dismissed a pay rise offer put forward by management. Workers’ groups described the offer of a 4.3 percent increase in their basic salaries as derisive and are holding out for a double-digit raise.

Photo: Škoda Auto
An editorial in an issue of Škodovácký odborář, the weekly union newspaper at the carmaker’s plant Mladá Boleslav in central Bohemia, published on Thursday wrote that Škoda Auto’s offer laughed in the face of all employees.

In the most recent round of collective bargaining, the company offered a 4.3 percent rise in basic salaries from 1 April this year with the possibility of a further rise from the start of November.

The package also included an increase in personal evaluations of up to 16 percent of the new basic pay, as well as one-off bonuses in April and November.

The weekly wrote that Škoda Auto or its board must have been “living on another planet” in recent weeks and not received the KOVO union’s demand for a double-digit rise.

The author continues by saying that workers were unwilling to listen to traditional scaremongering by management about the need to invest in the future, reining in costs and deepening pay gaps.

When it comes to managers’ salaries, the text goes on, austerity goes out the window. “It will certainly be interesting to compare their year-on-year growth” in Škoda Auto’s annual report, according to Škodovácký odborář.

In collective bargaining Škoda Auto initially offered wage growth of 15 percent over a period of 27 months. Employees would receive bonuses in addition to a regular bonus system totaling CZK 25,000.

Škoda hoped to seal a deal with unions for 27 months because the long-term horizon is important for the company, for example in connection with investments in new technologies, a source told the Czech News Agency reported.

The introduction of Saturday shifts is being strongly resisted by the unions, who say it would seriously undermine the personal lives of employees. Since the start of negotiations, they have refused to link wage talks with those on atypical shifts.

At the beginning of the negotiations, union leaders demanded wage growth of 18 percent. The average gross working wage in Škoda Auto amounted to CZK 40,557 last year, which was about 10 percent more than in 2016.

The unions are hoping to conclude a pay deal by the end of March, when the present one expires. At the same time, they have refused to extend the current collective agreement until the end of the negotiations.

One of the largest employers in the Czech Republic, Škoda Auto is part of Germany’s Volkswagen Group. It has a staff of around 30,000 in three manufacturing plants in the Czech Republic.