November 8, 2023·News·Barbora Turková·Čestmír Strakatý
Roman Ďurčo (Source: Profimedia)
The trade unions are planning to stop production for an hour on November 27 and want to show the government their disapproval of the austerity package being prepared. Why did the trade unionists decide so, and won’t the strike also damage the companies themselves? The head of the KOVO trade union, Romana Ďurčo, was a guest of the Press Club at Čestmír Strakatý’s.
According to Roman Ďurč, the government does not conduct a classic social dialogue with the trade unions. “The government always announces some step, does not discuss it with us, and then we only have to react to the given situation. Since May we have s tense situation by the government, especially after it announced the consolidation package, Ďurčo explains the reason. However, Marián Jurečka, the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, opposes this by saying that he leads the dialogue with the trade unions. “Minister Jurečka met with us regarding pensions and demanding professions, but he did not tell us anything specific about it. In those two hours, we are not able to discuss the topics in detail, and most importantly we failed to enforce our demands.We declared a strike alert based on the acceptance of the consolidation package, we are still fighting for him. After many years, we even reached an agreement with the employers’ unions on 9 points. We only succeeded in terms of benefits, and that was only about 50%.“
According to Ďurč, the last straw was the announcement of energy prices, which are to rise by tens of percent. “We operate mainly in industry, and there it can be liquidating. I think the government officials are not presenting it the way it really should be. We have reports from the industry that hundreds of millions of crowns can be involved in energy-intensive businesses.” As part of the trade confederation, the unions have agreed that they will go on a one-hour warning strike on 11/27. “For KOVO, we go to the hardest and we want to stop production in all our enterprises for an hour.Škoda Auto also joined us, it will stop there for two hours. We are not doing this against the employers, but against the government. We have no other chance but to speak up like this.“
You cannot live long-term on debt
However, it is possible that the strike and demonstration that the unions are planning will also damage some companies. “We are in intensive contact with industry representatives and do not want to harm them. We discuss company by company, and where there would be a risk of major damage, we agreed that we will not stop production, because if you stop the blast furnace, you can cause damage of many millions,” says Ďurčo, adding that this is only the beginning of the harshest protests. “If the government does nothing about energy prices and companies will either leave the Czech Republic or go bankrupt, then that is definitely the beginning. I don’t want to say what will happen now but we are determined to fight for our jobs.“
The head of the trade union proposed a solution to the government several times, which would fill the state budget and would not only burden pensioners, employees and the most vulnerable groups. But he was not heard. “We have to grind into history. A big mistake was the abolition of the super-gross wage, the abolition of EET. We offered a solution that we would help with the problems, but our demands are rather left-wing, while the government is right-wing. We are not saying that we want to return the super gross salary, now that would be a mistake. The tax system has undergone some development and now it would burden our citizens even more. In the long term, nothing was done about inflation, energy prices should have been capped on the side of the producers, conditions like those in Slovakia or Germany should have been agreed upon. The government has the opportunity to see how they solved it across the border. It is difficult to compete when we have several times more expensive energy than, for example, in Slovakia. But consumers also take it away,” says the head of the KOVO union, adding that he agrees that you cannot live on debt in the long term.