In June 2021, a five-day strike took place at the German-owned Booster Precision Components factory in Beluša (Považie region, western Slovakia), which produces components for car turbochargers. The workers were defending themselves against wage cuts and other measures that the company began to implement in 2020, citing the difficult situation caused by the pandemic.
The strike had virtually universal support in the plant, and left the company paralyzed. Thanks to a blockade by picketing workers, the management was unable to export stocks of manufactured goods, or to stockpile components needed for assembly. The work stoppage eventually led to every one of the strikers’ demands being met, either in full or at least to a degree that far exceeded management’s original offers. In addition, the strike had several other important aspects:
up to two-thirds of the company’s employees are women;
the plant is a tier 2 supplier for the automotive industry and forms part of global value chains in this key sector of Slovakia’s export-oriented economy;
in addition to a few dozen agency workers, the factory employs about 220 people, mostly from the same region, who form a relatively stable collective;
production of the plant is based on relatively highly skilled work with CNC machines;
the factory is owned by a medium-sized investment fund based in Germany, which has high hopes for its involvement in this sector, managing the concern with aggressiveness typical of private equity firms,
in addition to wages, worker discontent was (and still is) related to two other key issues — workplace safety and management’s attitude.
We take a closer look at the strike in our 2021 pamphlet, We Have to Stick Together: The Story of the Strike at Booster Precision Components.
a chronology of events from the beginning of the pandemic to the strike;
history and international context of the Beluša factory;
production process and workforce composition;
the boss’s strategy and worker response;
the course of the strike and its results;
strengths and weaknesses of the strike;
what lessons should we draw?