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Hungary: workers put jobs on the line to defend sacked union leader

30 January, 2017Workers at the Richard Fritz car window factory in Aszód, Hungary, braved management threats of dismissal to take part in a demonstration demanding the reinstatement of sacked union leader Edit Kovács.  

IndustriALL Global Union joined some 200 workers and union representatives from Hungarian unions at the protest on the morning of 24 January.

Kovács, who was secretary of the Richard Fritz trade union, AMASZ, was dismissed on 13 January. She was also President of the Workers’ Council, and member of the Health and Safety Committee at the company. AMASZ is affiliated to IndustriALL through the VDSZ union.

Many sections of the VDSZ union joined the protest in solidarity, along with other national trade unions in light of the growing pressure on unions in the country.

Tamás Székely, VDSZ President, said: 

In the past few months, several trade unionists in Hungary have been sacked.  We must fight back and send a message that this is unacceptable. We will not let our representatives - who struggle every day - be humiliated and punished for bargaining in the interests of members.

Edit Kovács, who attended the demonstration, said: 

Our simple demand is to be treated with respect and for the employer to negotiate with the union in good faith.

The Richard Fritz group, which makes vehicle windows at plants in Germany, Slovakia and Hungary, is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Turkish company, Şişecam.

In speaking to the rally on behalf of IndustriALL, Tom Grinter said:

Multinational companies like Şişecam, which owns Richard Fritz, think they are above the law. And many governments side with the employers, turning a blind eye to abuse. We will not stand by. IndustriALL’s message to the Şişecam CEO and the Richard Fritz management here in Aszód is give Edit her job back today.

IndustriALL has written to Şişecam demanding that Kovács be reinstated and that fundamental labour rights are respected at Richard Fritz.