The slaughterhouse employees at HKScan’s Rakvere production plant held a demonstration this afternoon at HKScan’s headquarters in Turku and demanded a swift resumption of negotiations to resolve the dispute.
The strikers insist that HKScan should respect the workers’ right of association, recognise the trade union established in October as a negotiating party, and raise the below average wages of the workers.
The slaughterhouse employees have been on strike for longer than two weeks – the strike began on 6 February 2018 at 7.30. The decision to strike was reached when negotiations with the Estonian national conciliator faltered in December, with the employer dismissing the conciliator’s proposal which the employees would have approved.
Employees are disappointed about the way the employer ignored the trade union and the shop steward in the negotiations. HKScan’s managing director Jari Latvanen told Yle on Monday that the production facility “has had very good discussions with the cooperation bodies that the staff has been able to send representatives to.”
“The employer has announced that they will only negotiate with their own cooperation body, not with the trade union set up by the workers. The employees were able to select members for the cooperation body, but only from the candidates put forward by the employer. Of the thirteen proposed members, only two are production workers. We believe that the cooperation body has been created to break down the trade union. The message was that the strike should be called off immediately,” explains Andrus Saaremägi, who represents HKScan’s Rakvere employees.
According to Latvanen, HKScan has raised the wages of Rakvere’s employees by six per cent every year and wages are “19 per cent above the average wage in Estonia for food workers”.
According to the employees, the information provided by the employer on the salary and wages is misleading. The wages paid to employees have not risen. Instead, in many cases they have fallen, with cuts made to bonuses and monthly variable bonuses paid to employees on top of their basic salary.
“I suspect that Latvanen’s figures also include the pay of salaried employees. The gross salary of Rakvere’s slaughterhouse employees is about 1000 euros a month, with net income of less than 800 euros,” points out Artjom Arhangelski, organisational officer of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Estonia, EAKL
The employees’ views are supported by a letter from the Estonian national conciliator dated 30 November 2017 proposing that the pay of employees be raised to the same level as the average gross monthly salary of the Estonian food industry, which was 1,071 euros in the second quarter of 2017.
Elected representatives of HKScan’s employees in Finland have also been discussing the situation in Rakvere today. They demand that the employer takes swift action to find an agreement agreed by both parties in Rakvere and, if necessary, be ready for support measures if a solution is not found.
“We hope that the employer will now turn words into action and start negotiating with Rakvere’s trade union representatives to resolve the dispute without delay,” adds Ville Vatka, chief shop steward for HKScan Vantaa plant and member of the European Works Council.
The 30 November 2017 agreement proposal of state conciliator of Estonia, Meelis Virkebau, has been translated to Finnish and can be found on SEL’s website:
Previous SEL press releases (in Finnish):
The striking slaughterhouse employees of HKScan’s Rakvere plant are protesting in Turku on Wednesday (19 February 2018) http://www.selry.fi/?x17423=73337453
Elected Finnish representatives of SEL and HKScan support the strike of Rakvere employees (6 February 2018) http://www.selry.fi/?x17423=73288067
Elected Finnish representatives of SEL and HKScan support the trade union of HKScan’s Rakvere plant (5 December 2017) http://www.selry.fi/?x17423=72974640
Henri Lindholm, general secretary of the Federation of Finnish Food Industries SEL (interviews only by telephone in Finnish, Swedish and English), Tel: +358 40 759 6568
Andrus Saaremägi, shop steward of HKScan’s Rakvere plant (interviews in Estonian or Russian), Tel: +372 5613 7973, email@example.com
Artjom Arhangelski, president of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Estonia, EAKL (interviews in Estonian and English), Tel: +372 5560 6744, firstname.lastname@example.org
Requests for photos from the 21 February 2018 demonstration in Turku: Kati Oksman, spokesperson of SEL, Tel: +358 40 450 6464 or email@example.com