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Ford European Works Council meets in Russia

14 October, 2010Representatives of works councils at Ford plants in Europe visited the factory in Vsevolozhsk, Russia and agreed on future forms of joint work and cooperation.

RUSSIA: European Works Council (EWC) of the Ford Motor Company met in Saint-Petersburg from October 4 to 7, 2010. Representatives of works councils at Ford plants in Germany, United Kingdom and Romania took part in the meeting. The delegation was led by Ford European Works Council president Dieter Hinkelmann. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung also took part in the meeting, which it helped to organize.

Mark Ovenden, president and CEO of Ford Moscow, addressed the delegates. He announced that Ford was determined to maintain its positions on the Russian market even when the crisis would be over and the car sales would achieve three million or even four million per year level. Ovenden's evaluation was based solely on the price of oil on the international markets, which of course is essential for the future of Russian economy; however, another important factor - namely, the dependence of the internal market on the purchasing power of workers - was not taken into account.

On the second day of the meeting delegates visited the Ford plant in Vsevolozhsk near Saint-Petersburg and met with the director of the plant. The general impression of the meeting was positive. Due to the influence exercised by the union a regular social dialogue between the workers and the employer was established. Foremen enthusiastically recounted the fact that some labour-intensive processes were automated due to the innovative suggestions of the workers. However the delegates noted that in their countries the very same processes were robot-aided.

During the meeting with union activists at the plant, the EWC coordinator explained that EWC meetings are held four times a year. Ford management takes part in two of those meetings. Despite the fact that Russia is not a member of the EU, a representative from Ford Vsevolozhsk takes part in all the meetings with observer status.

The EWC coordinator was asked if it was necessary for the future cooperation with EWC to establish a works council at the plant in Vsevolozhsk. He replied that the Council does not dictate the form of collective organization of employees and relied on the choice of workers themselves. IMF representative Vadim Borisov, who also took part in the meeting, noted that in CIS countries unions have already faced the situation when works councils were established by the management to weaken the positions of existing unions.

Participants of the meeting agreed on the forms of joint work and cooperation in the future.