In 2021, workers in a German-owned automotive supplier in Slovakia mounted a successful strike to defend themselves against wage cuts. This is the story of their struggle.
From the pamphlet's Foreword
In June 2021, a five-day strike took place at the German-owned Booster Precision Components factory in Beluša (Považie region, western Slovakia), which produces components for car turbochargers. The workers were defending themselves against wage cuts and other measures that the company began to implement in 2020, citing the difficult situation caused by the pandemic.
The strike had virtually universal support in the plant, and left the company paralyzed. Thanks to a blockade by picketing workers, the management was unable to export stocks of manufactured goods, or to stockpile components needed for assembly. The work stoppage eventually led to every one of the strikers’ demands being met, either in full or at least to a degree that far exceeded management’s original offers. In addition, the strike had several other important aspects:
- up to two-thirds of the company’s employees are women;
- the plant is a tier 2 supplier for the automotive industry and forms part of global value chains in this key sector of Slovakia’s export-oriented economy;
- in addition to a few dozen agency workers, the factory employs about 220 people, mostly from the same region, who form a relatively stable collective;
- production of the plant is based on relatively highly skilled work with CNC machines;
- the factory is owned by a medium-sized investment fund based in Germany, which has high hopes for its involvement in this sector, managing the concern with aggressiveness typical of private equity firms;
- in addition to wages, worker discontent was (and still is) related to two other key issues — workplace safety and management’s attitude.