The management of the Austrian based multinational Neusiedler in Ruzomberok, a town in central Slovakia, has decided to hand out redundancy notices to all workers who were involved in organising a new trade union.
The decision to break away from the existing KOZ trade union came after workers took the initiative to launch a petition for higher wages. Slovak workers earn about a third of what is paid in the Hungarian sister company and about one eighth of what is being paid in Austria. One of the factory meetings demanding higher wages was attended by 300 workers.
Over the last two years the Slovak government has implemented a brutal neo-liberal shock therapy. To attract foreign investment they have introduced a flat tax on income, corporate profits and retail sales of 19%, partly privatised the pension system and raised the retirement age from 58 for women with children and 60 for men to 62 years for everyone. Overall unemployment in Slovakia stands at 16% and the national average income is about €250 (or £174) a month. Near the capital Bratislava however average incomes are about 90% of the EU level, a sign of how a very rapid gap between a very rich minority and a poor majority of the population has developed since the reintroduction of capitalism, accelerated by EU membership.
The petition that demanded a wage increase of 50 SK per hour (1.25 Euro or £0.8) has been signed by 1223 workers. Factory management reacted by sacking the organisers of this action and the official KOZ trade union threatened workers that signing the petition could mean provoking "legal action" against them.
As a reaction to the outright betrayal of the official trade union, workers have begun building a new trade union, called OOZ Papier. Last weekend the new organisation had unionised a 1000 workers in the Neusiedler plant. ZOO Papier is organising solidarity from other factory and public service workers in the city and is preparing for city wide actions or possibly strikes to widen the struggle. Organisers of ZOO Papier have invited Socialistická alternativa Budoucnost, the CWI affiliate in the Czech Republic, to participate in their struggle.
We call on all members of the CWI to write protest letters and organise local actions to end the scandalous treatment of Neusiedler workers by the company bosses. We demand the immediate reinstatement of the sacked workers in Ruzomberok, an end to poverty pay, full trade union rights and the official recognition of the ZOO Papier trade. The Neusiedler multinational has paper mills in Austria, Hungary, Israel, Russia and South Africa. They have sales offices in Austria, the Netherlands, Russia, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the US, Czech Republic, Poland, Bulgaria, the Ukraine, and Britain. Adresses, telephone numbers and email adresses for all plants and sales offices can be found at www.neusiedler.com.
Addresses of Neusiedler
Neusiedler YBBSTAL – AG
A – 3363 Ulmerfeld – Hausmening
Tel.: +43/7475/500-0; Fax: +43/7475/500-2106 or -2259
NEUSIEDLER SZOLNOK RT
Tószegi út 2
Telefon: +36/56/501 100; Fax: +36/56/501 115
NEUSIEDLER HADERA PAPER LTD.
Industrial Zone, P.O. Box 142
Tel.: +972/4/6349-5514; Fax: +972/4/6346-602
OJSC NEUSIEDLER SYKTYVKAR
2, Bumazhnikov pr.
Tel.: +7/8212/669-974; Fax: +7/8212/665-698
NEUSIEDLER SCP a.s.
Bystrická cesta 13
Tel.: +421/44/436 1111; Fax: +421/44/432 7701
Mondi Fine Paper South Africa
PO Box 31024
Tel.: +27/31/451 2111; Fax: +27/31/461 1343
NEUSIEDLER AG, Verkaufsbüro Wien,
Telefon: +43/1/795 06-0; Fax: +43/1/795 06-900
NEUSIEDLER UK LTD.
Horatio House, 77 Fulham Palace Road
Hammersmith, UK-London W6 8JC
Telefon: +44/20 8237 6050; Fax: +44/20 8741 3790
NEUSIEDLER SCP BULGARIA
4, Saborna str, entr. B, 1st floor, apt. 3
Telefon: +359/2/98 77 305
Fax: +359/2/98 65 298
NEUSIEDLER SCP BOHEMIA s.r.o.
CZ-108 00 Praha 10
Telefon: +420/2/66 02 1554, 66 02 1565; Fax: +420/2/72 70 6559
NEUSIEDLER FRANCE SARL
4, Rue des Ecricrolles
Z.A.E. des Ecricrolles
Telefon: +33/1/30 10 01 20; Fax: +33/1/30 10 01 21
NEUSIEDLER DEUTSCHLAND GMBH
Telefon: +49/89/417 68-0; Fax: +49/89/417 68-105
NEUSIEDLER ITALIA SRL
Via Della Giustizia 9
Telefon: +39/02/669 37 08
Fax: +39/02/669 30 94
NEUSIEDLER BENELUX B.V.
NL-1531 AZ Wormer
Telefon: +31/75/647 2020; Fax: +31/75/647 2025
NEUSIEDLER SCP POLSKA
ul. Pulawska 303
Telefon: +48/22/549 4851
Fax: +48/22/549 4850
OOO NEUSIEDLER CIS
2, Brestskaya Ulica,
Dom 8, 13th floor
Telefon: +7/095/540 4884; Fax: +7/095/540 4884
NEUSIEDLER NORTH AMERICA, Inc.
432 West 21st Street
Norfolk, VA 23517
Telefon: +1/757/624 9499
Fax: +1/757/624 9498
NEUSIEDLER SCP UKRAINE
Bol’shaya Vasil’kovskaya 132, of. 70
UA-252 150 Kiev
Telefon: +380/44/268 1493, 268 0225; Fax: +380/44/495 2698