Discrimination in Škoda: Poles paid 20 per cent less

Tomáš Fránek
30. 1. 2008 12:00
Manpower agency, not the company, blamed for abuse
Some carworkers seem to be more equal than others
Some carworkers seem to be more equal than others | Foto: Škoda auto

Brno - Rights of Poles working for Škoda, the Czech car-maker and part of the Volkswagen Group, have been violated massively and repeatedly. However, not the company, but a personal placement agency that employed them is to be blamed.

Czech ombudsman Otakar Motejl informed this week that agency Zetka Auto has been paying the Poles lower wages than the firm is obliged by law and union contracts.

Salaries 20 percent lower

"A night shift bonus is supposed to be 20 CZK (0.77 euro) per hour according to the trade union contract, Poles have been receiving only 6 CZK per hour. The total monthly salary was then roughly 15-20 percent lower," said Motejl.

Mr. Abuse-buster. Ombudsman Otakar Motejl
Mr. Abuse-buster. Ombudsman Otakar Motejl | Foto: Ludvík Hradilek

On top of that, at the time of the control being performed, the agency owed travel compensation for business trips to 10 out of 18 employees who were the subject of inspection.

"Taking into consideration that the agency has been employing thousands, we can safely call this abuse massive and repetitive," claimed ombudsman.

Misconduct of the official inspection

Ombusdman Motejl also criticized the attitude of the labor inspection office. In spite of its learning that Zetko Auto agency pays its employees lower than it is obliged to, the inspection didn't try to find out what they are really paid nor whether they are denied housing allowances.

"Above all, the inspection didn't try to compare the official pay guaranteed by union contract with the real wage," added Motejl.

Initially, the inspection didn't want to fine the agency, although it could have been fined with as much as 77 thousand euro (2 million CZK). "The company has fulfilled its obligation," inspectors concluded then in spite of the Polish workers still getting paid the same as before.

"Like slaves"

Motejl responded by calling for another inspection to be performed that eventually confirmed serious violations of the Labor Code.

The agency has refused to take the blame, but Škoda is going to proceed against it in case of accusations being proven.

The issue was already discussed last year when influental Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza claimed that hundreds of Polish workers in Škoda "work and live as slaves".

The paper reported that they live poorly in old dirty buildings, work without adequate gear such as gloves or boots, have low salaries, and are frequently forced to work overtime.


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