The open-ended strike of the slaughter line employees of HKScan Estonia's Rakvere Meat Processing Plant began at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
"This is the first larger strike in Estonia's industrial sector," noted Estonian Trade Union Confederation chairman Peep Peterson.
While the slaughter line workers have announced an open-ended strike, other employees of the meat processing plant have been invited to participate in a support strike which also began on Tuesday morning and is to last through 7:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 9.
A total of 785 employees work at the plant.
The slaughter line employees of Rakvere Meat Processing plant are demanding a base wage hike of 16 percent as of Feb. 1 and a second 16-percent hike as of July 1. Also demanded in the strike announcement sent to the employer by the unions on Jan. 19 is that the employer not make changes to the way incentive pay is calculated.
According to the unions, this would mean an increase in the workers' base hourly wage to €4.34 as of Feb. 1 and €5.03 as of July 1. Based on the unions' calculations, this should increase slaughter line employees' average monthly wages to €1,079 as of Feb. 1 and €1,195 as of July 1.
HKScan Estonia, meanwhile, announced that they have decided to increase the entire company's payroll by five percent in the second quarter.
"As we are a big business, which employs over 1,500 people, it is important for us to take all of our employees' interests and satisfaction into account," said HKScan Estonia managing director Anne Mere. "The wage increase of just one department does not support a transparent and equal wage system and would not be fair to the company's other employees. We will stick with treating all of our employees equally and considering the entire company's wage system as a whole."
Editor: Aili Vahtla