For the first time in the 26-year history of Volkswagen in Slovakia, workers at the production plant in Bratislava have gone on strike for better wages. According to the Reuters news agency, production lines stopped on Tuesday, June 20 as about 70 percent of the 12,300 employees stopped work.
In a development that U.S. workers might find surprising, politicians in Slovakia supported the union’s efforts to improve conditions at the plant. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico expressed his support for the striking VW workers, stating “why should a company making one of the highest quality and most luxurious cars with a high labor productivity pay its Slovak workers half or one-third of the amount it pays to the same workers in western Europe?” Volkswagen’s western Europe plants are primarily located in Germany, with others in Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
Reuters reported that production of the Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7, Volkswagen up!, Seat Mii, Skoda Citigo and bodies for the Porsche Cayenne had come to a halt. VW workers in Slovakia produced over 388,000 cars in 2016.
Slovakia is located in central Europe, surrounded by Austria, Poland, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Bratislava, the nation’s capital, is about 500 miles from Wolfsburg, Germany.