In April 2018, the Congress of the Czech Trade Union Confederation, ČMKOS, adopted its aims for the next term. One of the aims is to shorten the maximum weekly working time for all employees by about 2.5 hours per week, to be laid down by the Labour Code, without wage cuts. This means that workers would work for half an hour less per day while their monthly wages remain the same. The same demand was adopted by the OS KOVO Presidium in March 2018.

Recently, according to analyses by OS KOVO (Metal Workers’ Federation) of company agreements concluded in 2017, shortened working time already exists in 60% of these agreements. According to the President of OS ECHO (Trade union Federation in Chemical and Energy), this demand will also be a part of their programme, which is expected be approved at their upcoming Congress.

The trade unions in the Czech Republic are now working on a strategy to push through this demand, together with the Confederation, ČMKOS. Discussions with the government which were about to start are now at a standstill due to the current political situation. Unions will nonetheless promote this demand at all levels of collective bargaining and will strive to achieve this goal as soon as possible.

The President of OS KOVO, Jaroslav Souček, states that shorter working time without wage cuts is, together with a general wage increase, his union’s highest priority. There are several reasons for this: many employees in the Czech Republic are forced to do strenuous work with high intensity; employers are putting so much pressure on their workers that they become physically and mentally worn out; the number of weekly and annual hours is simply too high, having a negative impact on quality of their life; many jobs in the manufacturing industry are at risk due to digitalisation and automation and there is the risk of a new cyclical crisis that could put quality jobs in danger. This is what OS KOVO is trying to avoid.

“The Czech trade unions have many good reasons to call for a reduction of working time and a number of trade unions share their concerns across Europe. We fully support our Czech colleagues”, said Luc Triangle, industriAll Europe General Secretary.