March 12, 2019 / 3:38 PM / 5 months ago

Labour shortage prompts further strike action in Hungary's car industry

BUDAPEST, March 12 (Reuters) - Workers at South Korea’s Hankook Tire plant in Hungary went on strike on Tuesday, demanding an 18 percent wage increase, the VDSZ trade union said, as a labour shortage puts pressure on the car industry.

The industry accounts for nearly a third of Hungary’s manufacturing output and is a major driver of exports and economic growth but wages are rising sharply as companies find it hard to find skilled workers.

Also on Tuesday, workers at the Hungarian operations of Canada-based exhaust parts producer Wescast, owned by China’s Sichuan Bohong Industry, began a three-day strike in Oroszlany city, near Budapest - where the company employs 1,200 people - demanding higher pay.

Hankook employs around 3,300 people at its factory making tyres for cars and smaller trucks near the central Hungarian town of Dunaujvaros. The union did not say exactly how many employees joined the strike, which began at 1300 GMT after workers rejected management’s offer last week of a 13.6 percent wage increase. They also want bigger bonuses and the strike would last indefinitely, VDSZ said.

A strike in January by workers at Audi paralysed the German car maker’s factory in Gyor, Western Hungary, and also its main plant in Ingolstadt, Germany, for days. Workers eventually secured an 18 percent wage increase.

Hungary’s economy is growing by around 5 percent annually and its employment rate is at 3.7 percent, a near record low. (Reporting by Sandor Peto and Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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