Škoda unions to push for pay rises of over 10%

Foto: Archiv Škoda Auto

Workers at Czech carmaker Škoda Auto are set to push for double-digit pay rises. But just 10 percent would be “embarrassing”, says a union leader.

Photo: Škoda Auto
Unions at the Czech Republic’s largest exporter, carmaker Škoda Auto, say they will push for double-digit pay rises in collective bargaining with company bosses, the Czech News Agency reported on Thursday.

Later this year unions at the Škoda Auto plant in Mladá Boleslav, Central Bohemia are set to discuss with management the end of an agreement on flexible overtime shifts and the organisation of 17th and 18th weekly shifts, which involve staff doing extra work on Friday nights and Saturday mornings.

On top of this, all other agreements on the time organisation of work at the Volkswagen-owned Škoda Auto run out at the end of March.

The chairman of the trade union at Škoda Auto, Jaroslav Povšík, told the union weekly Škodovácký odborář on Thursday that his people would like to see salaries increase by a double-digit figure.

However, the number would need to exceed 10 percent, Mr. Povšík said. “That’s too little. We’d all be embarrassed. It has to be more,” he told Škodovácký odborář.

In some pay brackets the average gross income of workers at Škoda Auto reaches CZK 40,000 a month, which is around 25 percent more than the national average salary.

Mr. Povšík says the approaching end of the agreements on working models plays into unions hands, as if those deals do run out the firm could find itself in chaos.

“The company would at a certain moment come to a halt and production would have to return to lower levels,” the union boss said.

The workers groups are now waiting to see what Škoda Auto management bring to the table. Initial offers have in the past always been pathetic and the unions don’t even react to them, said Mr. Povšík.

He said his men aimed to at least emulate the gains won by workers at a Volkswagen plant in Slovakia, who obtained a 14-percent pay rise following a six-day strike. Mr. Povšík said his union would also consider industrial action if necessary.

Last year Škoda Auto enjoyed record sales of 1,127,000 vehicles, a 6.7 percent year-on-year rise on 2015. Its profits climbed by more than a third.