Slovakia: EU entry brings vicious attacks

A three-day national railway strike paralysed Slovakia from 1-3 February. The government clamped down on the strike using the High court to declare the action illegal.

The strike errupted after the government announced plans to close down 25 regional railway lines. This program is part of the right-wing government’s attempts to prepare the country to enter the EU. Other plans include attacks on welfare, health care and the introduction of indirect taxation to replace the direct taxation employers pay as part of the wages of the workforce they employ.

Before the action took place, the government unleashed a propaganda campaign against the strike. However, public support for the railway workers reached 60%. In a country with an average unemployment rate of 20% the consequences of closing down the regional railway lines are widely understood. It would cut off the poorest areas of the country and severly limit the possibilities for the unemployed to find work in and around the capital.

The trade union federation is debating the possibility to call a general strike against the attacks of the government on welfare and health care.

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February 2003