Czech Republic: Tram drivers strike – picket lines attacked by police and thugs

Prague – The independent federation of tram drivers (FRT) organised a one day strike on February 4 over wage claims. The main demand is that tram drivers wages would be equalized with the wages of other transport workers, like bus drivers in Prague. Picket lines were attacked by scabs, security guards hired by management and the police force. 10 tram drivers were injured in the clashes.

At four o’clock in the morning workers in the 7 tram depots in Prague started a one-day strike. Members of Socialist Alternative Budoucnost (SAB), the Czech section of the CWI, together with other union activists went up to express solidarity and to reinforce the picketlines. The FRT took strike action after negotiations dragged on for longer than a year. Tram management together with the Prague city council defended the wage difference with the argument that tram drivers, as opposed to bus drivers, have no legal obligation to have a drivers license. FRT was founded out of discontent with the bureaucracy of the different branches of the OSD, the former Stalinist trade union federation.

Management hired private security firms to act as strike-breakers by physically attacking the picket lines. Temporary workers where hired to provide scab-labour. The four depots where their was an all-out strike were attacked by the police. Bem, the mayor of Prague and the city council plotted with tram management against the strikers. The day before the strike the mayor organised a day of free transport to undermine the confidence of the workers and to turn public opinion against them. The media presented the strike as a complete failure.

Socialist Alternative Budoucnost, the Czech section of the CWI, appeals for international solidarity, messages of support for the strikers and letters of condemnation to be sent to the mayor of Prague.

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February 2003
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