Striker: No strikers at Rakvere plant have returned to work
According to employees of HKScan Estonia's Rakvere Meat Processing Plant who went on strike a week ago, none of the strikers have returned to work, regional daily Virumaa Teataja reported.
HKScan's claims that four strikers have returned to work are not true, asserted Janek Sammul, one of the strikers. In reality, he said, employees who took part in a support strike returned to work, while the 21 employees of the meat processing plant continue to strike.
According to Sammul, the strikers arrive at a room meant for them every morning and remain there for eight hours. On Monday, there were 19 employees in that room, he added.
Wage dispute four months old
The wage dispute at Rakvere Meat Processing Plant began on Oct. 17, when 27 slaughterhouse employees staged an illegal strike, resulting in the dismissal of three employees. The employees said they were protesting against poor working conditions as well as the stagnation of wages, which have not been raised for the past ten years.
The workers then referred the dispute to the public conciliator, who was unable to reconcile the two parties.
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.
Employees of the plant began an open-ended strike on Tuesday, Feb. 6 after a final attempt at talks on Feb. 1 failed.
HKScan Group is a Nordic meat producer which produces and markets pork, beef, poultry, mutton, processed meat as well as ready-made food. While it saw €1.8 billion on revenue, the company posted a loss of €18 million last year. HKScan Group also includes HKScan Estonia, which in turn owns Rakvere Meat Processing Plant and poultry producer Tallegg.
Editor: Aili Vahtla
Source: BNS, ERR