The longest strike in the 116-year history of the VDSz was settled on the evening of 21 March at Hankook Tire. IndustriALL Global Union’s Hungarian affiliate VDSz negotiated a range of improvements for members after the walkout by 1,700 workers cut the plant’s production by 75%. The average financial gain achieved in the settlement is 18.5% per employee.
During the first week of the strike at the Dunaújváros plant, local management refused to talk with the union, strongly harassed and intimidated strikers, and offered 50% wage increases to work during the strike.
Leading up to the full strike, VDSz first presented wage demands in mid-February, but a “lack of any good faith bargaining” led to a 6 March two-hour warning strike that caused the company to increase pay by 13.6%. However, that increase was made without direct discussion with the union. The full strike began on 12 March demanding further and more evenly-distributed increases to pay and benefits.
With the strike still going strong after a week and receiving wide solidarity support from unions in Hungary and abroad, corporate management from Hankook’s home country, South Korea, sat down with VDSz President Tamás and his team, and reached a settlement within 24 hours.
IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan said: “We are so proud of our sisters and brothers at VDSz. We salute the strikers’ commitment and bravery, as well as the skilled organizing and negotiating of President Székely’s team. Under the current anti-union environment in Hungary, VDSz is leading the struggle for workers’ rights. We now expect Hankook to fully recognize VDSz as its bargaining partner at Dunaújváros, and to ensure healthy industrial relations going forward.”
VDSz thanked IndustriALL Global Union and IndustriAll Europe, as well as affiliates from several countries for strong international support sent to the strikers.
The overall gains negotiated for workers combine different improvements that add to an increase on average of 18.5%. The settlement includes a 6% increase in shift allowance for all, improvement to the annual personal bonus, improvement of the seniority loyalty bonus, and fair distribution of wage increases.
VDSz has agreed to drop its pending legal action against Hankook. Production at the plant returned to normal on 22 March.