* Daimler to lift wages by 10 pct in each of next two years
* Agreement follows two-hour strike by key union last month
* First major accord since big minimum wage hike plans
By Gergely Szakacs
BUDAPEST, Dec 12 Daimler AG's
Mercedes-Benz cars division has reached a deal with unions at
its Hungarian plant that will see base salaries increase by 10
percent in each of the next two years, it said on Monday.
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 accounted for more than a quarter of total industrial
output in the eastern European Union member last year.
Daimler's deal follows months of negotiations at the 1
billion euro factory in Kecskemet, central Hungary, which
employs about 4,000 workers, according to its latest annual
Vasas, a major union which had sought a 15 percent wage
hike, held a two-hour strike at the plant late last month,
delaying the shipment of 50 cars.
Mercedes, which makes the B Class as well as CLA and CLA
Shooting Brake models in Hungary, will lift salaries by 10
percent for all workers from April and by another 10 percent
from April 2018, it said in a statement.
In July, Daimler, one of Hungary's biggest manufacturers,
said it would build a new factory in Hungary to make
Mercedes-Benz cars, spending another 1 billion euros by 2020 and
adding around 2,500 new jobs.
Daimler's two-year accord is the first publicly announced
wage deal by a major private sector employer in Hungary since
Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government agreed with employers
on big hikes in the minimum wage last month.
Orban, who faces an election in early 2018, agreed with
employers that the minimum wage would increase by 15 percent in
2017 and another 8 percent in 2018, while payroll tax will be
cut by 7 percentage points in the next two years.
Corporate tax will also be lowered to 9 percent next year
from 19 percent for all companies regardless of income.
Gross average wages in Hungary rose by 6.7 percent in
January-September to 257,900 forints ($871) per month, based on
($1 = 296.12 forints)
(Reporting Krisztina Than and Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Mark