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Ford workers in St. Petersburg protest 4-day work week
« on: May 20, 2009, 04:25:09 PM »
About 100 workers of the Ford plant in the Leningrad Oblast gathered on Friday for a meeting in the town of Vsevolozhsk to protest the introduction of a four-day working week at the plant.

“We have gathered to protest such measures, because we understand that it will lead to our salaries being cut by about 25 percent,” said Alexei Etmanov, head of the Ford plant’s trade union.

The authorities of the plant are planning to cut the working week from June through October, Etmanov said.

Workers at the plant currently earn from 19,000 to 27,000 rubles ($590 to $640) per month, he said.

The Ford plant has not worked on Fridays for the past four weeks, but the company paid the employees two thirds of their salary for that day. During that period, the halt in operations was officially considered to be “due to the fault of the employer,” Etmanov said.

Yekaterina Kulinenko, spokeswoman for the Ford plant, said the plant’s authorities had announced plans to cut the working week to four days on April 6.

“Sales of Ford Focus cars produced in Vsevolozhsk dropped by 40 percent during the first four months of this year,” she said on Friday. “Therefore we had to take the unpopular decision of cutting the volume of work and accordingly the working week, in order to save jobs at the plant.”

The plant’s trade union and workers have always been very active in fighting for their rights. In 2007, they made the plant’s authorities raise salaries by 20 to 30 percent by staging strikes.

The Ford plant began operating in Vsevolozhsk outside St. Petersburg in 2002. The factory employs about 2,000 workers and produces Ford Focus and Ford Mondeo. In 2008, the plant produced 65,000 cars.
The St. Petersburg Times | Forum