On July 3rd/4th, 2018, union representatives from Siemens locations from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany and Austria met at Tábor in the Czech Republic. The meeting was invited by the Czech Metal Workers´ Union OS KOVO.
Its president, Jaroslav Souček, and the international secretary, Dana Sakařová, chaired the meeting. He gave some information about the current situation in the Czech Republic. A new government has been formed after some difficulties. The new government has made some promises, but its exact program has not been released yet. There are allegations against the new prime minister Andrej Babiš.
Souček then gave an overview about the wage development and the development of the number of contract and of foreign workers in the Czech Republic. He mentioned, that the legal minimum wage is very low in the Czech Republic. He also talked about the consequences of the trade war with the US government for the steel and aluminium industry.
Christian Schaller and Martina Schneller gave some information about the situation in Austria. The new right-wing government has announced several cuts of social benefits. The unions are mobilizing against these measures. There has just been a demonstration in Vienna with 120 000 participants.
Gábor Kun, the union representative from Siemens in Hungary, gave some information about the situation in Hungary. He described the unions in Hungary as not very strong and also not very successful. The unemployment rate in Hungary is very low. This leads to a lack especially of skilled workforce, which is even worsened by the low wages, which motivate many people – especially the ones with high skills - to leave the country.
Dirk Linder from the German union IG Metall gave an information about the latest collective agreement of IG Metall in Germany, which among other companies also applies to Siemens.
Harald Kern, the chairman of the European Works Council of Siemens, gave a report on the current situation at Siemens. He described the conflict of the union representatives with the management over the future of Siemens as an integrated company and the difficulties at the different business units of Siemens. Kern also informed about the last meeting of the European Works Council of Siemens, the “Siemens Europe Committee” (SEC), which took place in Bratislava.
The participants of the meeting discussed the various problems, that occurred in the process of the share program of Siemens, which was offered last year. Harald Kern and Christian Schaller explained, that the issue has been discussed by the “Siemens Europe Committee”, and the head of HR, Mrs. Kugel, has agreed to discuss the problems with the Siemens CEO, Mr. Kaeser.
The participants of the meeting also discussed the issue of “Industry 4.0”. There are mixed expectations caused by this development. On one side, many unhealthy and monotonous jobs can probably be automatised, but this also means, that jobs are likely to be lost. These lost jobs have to be replaced in other work fields. The subject has a big importance especially at Siemens.
The participants from the Czech Republic gave reports about the situation at the represented locations of Siemens.
All participants agreed, that the Siemens meetings in the Czech Republic, that are organized by OS KOVO, are very helpful and should be continued in the future.
(Report: Dirk Linder)