Employees in the Hyundai plant in the Czech Republic strike against inhuman working conditions

4. 12. 2009 / Aleš Uhlíř

Employees of the Hyundai car factory in Nošovice, near Ostrava, in the Czech Republic, went on an unofficial strike on Wednesday 2nd December, 2009. They can no longer stand what they allege are inhuman working conditions in the car factory. The inhuman conditions are caused by the Czech middle management, not by the South Korean owners, say observers.

Working at Hyundai in Nošovice is "modern slavery. It is like in a labour camp here," said former employee Ondřej Franěk to the local newspaper Sedmicka.cz.

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK HERE

Overtime in the factory is regular practice, the provision of Czech labour law, which stipulates that overtime must be used only occasionally, is ignored. Pople regularly do 11-hour work shifts. If an employee needs to visit a doctor or if forced to go on sick leave, he is punished by points being taken from him, so that his/her pay is reduced.

When working on the conveyor belt, employees are not allowed to have a drink more often than twice during the whole work shift. Employees are given only ten minute breaks, during which they must choose whether to go to the toilet or to go for a drink to a barrel containing water. There is no time to do both. There are long queues at the toilets.

During the hot days in the summer of 2009, heating was being tested in the factory for four days. The temperature in the workshop was more than 30 degrees Centigrade. The employees were not allowed to keep water near the conveyer belt, so they were seriously dehydrated. One employee collapsed, an ambulance took him away.

A former employee could not do a compulsory work shift because he had to arrange a funeral in his family. A supervisor told him that the employee "will not fuck with him", issued him a written reprimand and deliberately put him to work at a place where he was forced to stand on tiptoes all day to tighten screws on the undercarriage of some 400 cars - he was not tall enough for this kind of work.

Punishment is frequent, overtime is often imposed on employees at the last minute. It is impossible to inform the family about a sudden overtime because the employees must not use their mobile phones even during their breaks.

According to Mladá fronta 7, the current strike is unofficial because the unions are afraid that if they organised a strike, the company would sue them.

Sources in Czech: Mladá fronta 7, Frýdek-Místek HERE HERE


Obsah vydání | Pátek 26.2. 2010