BUDAPEST — Audi workers in Hungary have set up a strike committee to push for higher salaries in the latest sign of how labor shortages in the country are driving up wage expectations.
The AHFSZ union said in a statement published on Monday that the most recent management offer was “unacceptable” as it proposed to hike wages gradually, while a previously flagged bonus program was scrapped.
The strike committee aims to continue talks with Audi management, the statement said.
A press official for Audi could not comment immediately.
Audi builds A3 compact sedan and convertible cars and TT sports-car models in Hungary at its plant in Gyor, according to Automotive News Europe‘s European car assembly plant map.
The action by Audi workers follows a December agreement with unions at rival carmaker Daimler’s Hungarian factory that will see base salaries increase by 10 percent in each of the next two years.
The production and export of cars by foreign automakers is a key driver of economic growth in Hungary, where wages for skilled workers are well below Western European levels.
The car sector accounts for more than a quarter of total industrial output in the eastern European Union member.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who faces an election in early 2018, has agreed with employers that the minimum wage will increase by 15 percent this year and another 8 percent in 2018, while the payroll tax will also be lowered.
Gross wages in Hungary rose by 6.2 percent year-on-year in the January-November period. The unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent, the lowest in at least a decade, in September-November from 4.7 percent in August-October.
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