Slovakia: Sacked union activists to hold conference

Workers and international socialists meet in Ruzomberok

CWI representatives from the Czech Republic, Austria and Britain, will attend a conference in Ruzomberok, Slovakia, in solidarity with activists from the ‘ZOO Papier’ union, and also with workers from the the business paper, ‘SCP/Neusiedler’.

A multinational Anglo-American PLC, which made $1,596 billion dollars profit in 2003, has left its mark on the town of Ruzomberok, which lies in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains, in East Slovakia. A daughter company, the Austrian-based Neusiedler/Mondi business paper, SCP, took over the local paper mill in 2001. Since then, it has proved to be a profit-churning asset for the multinational company, while it pays its Slovakian workers a mere 20 percent of the average wage workers get in its Austrian factory.

When Mondi took over they promised to employ 400 extra workers by 2006. Instead the number of workers at the plant has fallen by more than 200 to about 2,200. Last September, management sacked five workers who had organised a petition asking for higher wages. These five organised a new union called, ‘ZOO Papier’, as a means to wage an effective struggle for higher wages and better working conditions. This union is legal and in accordance with the Slovak labour law. Therefore, legally, Mondi has no other option than to accept the union and to reinstate the sacked workers. But the reaction of Neusiedler management was to declare to the founding members of ZOO Papier that, "democracy stops at the factory gate".

The CWI will continue its international campaign of solidarity with ZOO Papier and demands the immediate recognition of the union and the reinstatement of the sacked union activists.

More reports, interviews, and solidarity appeals will be posted over the next few days.

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January 2005