February 10, 2017 / 4:23 PM / 10 months ago

Hungarian union reaches two-year Audi wage deal

BUDAPEST, Feb 10 (Reuters) - German carmaker Audi’s Hungarian unit has reached an agreement on wage rises for the next two years with the local AHFSZ union, which announced the deal on Friday.

Car production and export by foreign automakers is a key driver of economic growth in Hungary, where skilled workers are paid much less than their counterparts in western Europe.

Audi, one of Hungary’s biggest revenue-earners and exporters, will increase base salaries by 30,000 forints ($103) as of January this year, and by another 30,000 forints from the start of next year. It will also raise other benefits.

Hungarians earned a gross 260,800 forints ($900) per month in the January-November period, according to official statistics, which compares with an average monthly salary in Germany was 3,612 euros ($3,838) in 2015.

The carmaker employs 11,631 people at a major plant in the western town of Gyor, which made 1.92 million engines and nearly 123,000 cars last year.

Audi will also introduce a loyalty bonus from July, the union said in a statement posted on its website. It did not specify average salaries at the factory. The wage deal will be signed on Monday, it added.

A spokeswoman for Audi’s Hungarian unit could not be reached immediately for comment.

A labour shortage is driving up wages in Hungary and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who faces an election in just over a year, agreed with private sector employers on big hikes in the minimum wage last November.

The agreement by Audi workers follows a December deal with unions at rival carmaker Daimler’s Hungarian factory that will see base salaries increase by 10 percent both this year and next. ($1 = 0.9412 euros) ($1 = 289.92 forints) (Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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