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Hungarian Tesco Workers Raise Their Voices Demanding Wage Rise

By Robert Velkey // 2017.07.10.

Employees of the Hungarian unit of UK retailer Tesco held a demonstration in Budapest on Saturday demanding a 15,000 forint (EUR 49) wage rise for the retail chain’s staff.

József Sáling, chairman of retail union KASZ, said that around 300 people participated in the demonstration. Retailer workers union KDFSZ, who organised the demonstration, is demanding that Tesco honour its pledge to remain among the top three best-paying retail supermarket chains in Hungary by raising the wages of its trained retail workers earning minimum wage. It is also demanding that no one in the company should be paid less than the increased minimum wage. The demonstrators handed over a petition with their demands to a Tesco representative at the end of the demonstration.

Sáling said that currently 12,500 of the 16,500 Tesco workers in Hungary earn a minimum wage, which he said was unacceptable, arguing that “they work to make a respectable living and not the minimum wage.” He also said Tesco plans to give a 2.3% wage increase to the remaining 4,000 employees. Sáling said that if the retailer does not ensure the unions “fair” wage talks, they will continue demonstrating and call a strike if all else fails. On Friday, Tesco issued a statement saying that it had raised the wages of 13,700 workers this year by an average of 12.4%. The retailer said it had spent 7.4 billion forints on raising the wages of its employees over the last two years.

Taking into account the full staff of over 12,000, including stockers, cashiers, shop assistants and price controllers, wages have increased by 14.8% this year, Tesco said.