Fico: I Would Welcome it if Agreement at VW is Achieved as Soon as Possible

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Fico on strike in Volkswagen Bratislava (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, June 20 (TASR) – Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) would welcome it if an agreement was achieved as soon as possible in the strike at Bratislava-based Volkswagen (VW), he said on Tuesday on the premises of the Labour, Social Affairs and the Family Ministry where he came to comment on May’s unemployment figures along with Labour Minister Jan Richter (Smer-SD).

“I would welcome it if they came to an agreement as soon as possible. An agreement is the most important thing to me. However, it’s a relationship between employers and employees. I strongly wish for them to agree as soon as possible,” stated Fico.

What’s going on now at VW Bratislava is something that was also discussed at Monday’s (June 19) talks held by the V4 (Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland) and Benelux countries. “Our western friends do not understand when we ask them why a worker in Bratislava, in a firm that has the highest quality, high productivity and manufactures the most luxurious cars, has a salary half or maybe two thirds lower than a worker in the same firm 200 km westwards, in any western country, where the work has lower quality, lower productivity and manufactures lower-quality products,” underlined Fico.

“I realise that there must be some differences in salaries, while at the same time I think that people have the right to claim higher salaries. Therefore, I view this question as a legitimate subject of discussion. However, I cannot comment on how or how much the salaries should be increased,” stated the prime minister.

Fico praised the fact that workers’ salaries in VW Bratislava are “very interesting”. “I praise VW’s strong social programmes, as well as this firm’s contribution to the Slovak economy. Nevertheless, I’m mainly looking at the man who’s standing at the conveyor belt,” stressed Fico.

Richter is not worried that VW might leave Slovakia because of the strike. “The Bratislava plant has been evaluated as one of the best plants of the entire company for many years. A company usually does not run away after such results, but rather seeks a way to agree and ensure further growth. There’s also a need to see big investments recently made by the company. If I could personally contribute to the agreement, I’d be glad to do so, but it’s up to the social partners [trade unions, employers and government] at the moment,” added the minister.