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Audi Hungaria union starts week-long strike

The Audi Hungaria Independent Trade Union (AHFSZ) on Wednesday called a week-long strike over wages starting from 6 a.m. on Thursday, following on from a warning strike last week, state news wire MTI reported.

Audis at the companyʼs Győr plant.

Talks with management will continue during the strike, and if an acceptable offer is made the strike will end, said AHFSZ Chairman Sándor Németh.

The union is demanding a wage increase of at least 18%, but no less than HUF 75,000 a month. They also want the annual threshold for non-wage benefits raised to HUF 787,000, up from HUF 620,000.

The AHFSZ warning strike last Friday lasted for two hours, after rejection of the managementʼs offer. According to the unionʼs leaders, more than 4,000 workers participated in the warning strike.

Since then, the management has proposed a wage increase on a scale "nearly the same" as an earlier offer to raise wages 20% over two years. The new offer was complemented by other elements, but union negotiators still rejected it.

Audi Hungaria employs some 13,000 people at its base in Győr (some 121 km northwest of Budapest). AHFSZ counts about 9,000 of those workers among its members.

Audi Hungariaʼs communications department said the company acknowledged the fact of the strike and was preparing for possible consequences when asked for comment by MTI on Wednesday.

Update: Near shutdown at Győr plant

Once the strike began on Thursday morning, engine and vehicle production at the base in Győr were "practically 100% shut down," MTI cited György Csalogány, deputy head of AHFSZ, as saying.

Workers participating in the strike will meet at several locations in the plant during the day. In the meantime, they will wait in "team rooms," MTI reported.

Audi Hungariaʼs communications department confirmed later on Thursday that wage negotiations were ongoing, in spite of the strike, responding to a query from MTI. The management is continuing to work hard on reaching a wage agreement that is acceptable to both sides, the department said.