Italian owner ‘strikes’ back at striking employees; with his car!

Two Italian textile companies with operations in Hencovce in East Slovakia re facing problems as both their workforces have been on strike since Tuesday 24 August demanding a pay rise.

The situation is obviously making the owners irate because the production director Mirko Bernuzzi actually drove menacingly into a group of ten workers yesterday, almost hitting KOVO trade union boss, Emil Machyna. Most of the picketers jumped to the side at the last moment, but his car came to halt in front of two women sitting on a bench.

The angry man at the wheel had obviously been affected by his earlier appointment at the police station, where he had gone to ask how to break up the strike only to be told that the right to strike is guaranteed by the Slovak Constitution. The incident was caught on video by the trade unionists, who then handed it in as evidence to the police with charges of assault.

Bernuzzi made the arrogant gesture as he could not get into the factory, because picketers have been blocking the factory gates with their cars. Several hundred employees of the companies Kali Agro and (98% of the workforce) have been demanding an extra EUR 50 a month in their pay packet and better working conditions.

On Wednesday morning 4 shift foreman and 4 part-timers showed up for work, while nobody came for the afternoon shift. Jozef Balic from the KOVO trade union said the union had now filed a complaint with the National Labor Inspectorate, and requested an injunction from the courts to prevent the employment of new workers, as this is against the law.

The employees are discontent because their average net wage is just EUR 260 (EUR 320 gross), and so the trade unionists have been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement with the employer since March.

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