Audi workers in Hungary agitate for higher pay, benefits

The nearly 11,500 workers at Audi’s plant in Győr receive much lesser salaries than their colleagues in other countries in the region. The two-hour work stoppage on Friday was termed a “warning strike”

January 21, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
Union leaders said the strike proved that the bulk of the workers supported its demands.

Workers at the plant of automobile manufacturer Audi in Gyor, Hungary, went on a warning strike on Friday, demanding higher wages and other benefits. The call for the strike was given by Audi Hungaria Independent Trade Union (AHFSZ). Audi Hungaria employs more than 11,500 people at its Győr plant.

The union had demanded that the German firm raise the base pay by 18% to a minimum of 75,000 Hungarian Forints (220 EUR). They also want 4% of the variable pay to be built into the base pay. The union has also asked for a weekend off for every employee a month and the increase in employee benefits from 620 000 HUF to 787 000 HUF, in addition to an increase in loyalty and jubilee bonuses.

According to an Associated Press report, union leader Sandor Nemeth said Friday’s two-hour work stoppage was “exceptionally successful,” and proof that the workers supported the union’s demands.

Hungary Today reported that a study carried out on behalf of the trade union revealed that workers at Audi Hungaria are the least paid among the firm’s employees in the region. In the Slovakian plant of Audi, workers currently earn 28% more than workers in Hungary. In the Czech Republic, they earn 25% more and in Poland, the difference is 39%. The Belgian unit pays workers 3.6 times more than the plant in Győr.

Meanwhile, thousands of workers and trade union activists marched in Budapest on Saturday, January 19, against regressive labor reforms dubbed the ‘slave law’ that was passed in December. The amendment to the labor code allows employers to ask for up to 400 hours of overtime per annum. The law is set to add an extra eight working hours a week or may result in a six-day working week. Countrywide protests were held in December too against the ‘slave law’ enacted by the government of Viktor Orban.