16 April, 2019More than 1,000 workers at the Ford-Sollers plant in Vsevolozhsk, Russia, will be laid-off in July 2019 due to the closure of the plant. Their unions demand the continuity of the plant under a new owner and a fair distribution of the funds allocated for compensation.
On 12 April, some 150 workers of the Ford Sollers plant with the support of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Interregional Trade Union "Workers Association" (ITUWA) and the local Ford trade union organization, held a rally with slogans “Ford: discriminating and deceiving workers in Russia” and “Governor and Mayor, protect our rights”.
Employees of the plant, which is located in the Leningrad region, do not agree with the Voluntary Dismissal Programme, developed by local Ford management. According to the ITUWA, 10 managers will receive as much compensation as 1,000 employees of the plant.
Participants of the programme can count on compensation clearly above the Russian legal requirements but under conditions that restrict the employee’s rights. They should not be absent from work for more than five days due to illness and should not have disciplinary sanctions. Moreover, production targets must be met. If at least one condition is violated before 24 June, the employee will only receive three months’ salary. Trade union activists say that any employee might be groundlessly punished with disciplinary measures and deprived of their deserved compensation.
Igor Temchenko, chair of ITUWA in the Leningrad region and Saint-Petersburg, states,
“We believe that the proposed Voluntary Dismissal Programme does not fairly allocate funds for compensation. The director and managers will receive from 4 to 10 million rubles (US$ 61,200-153,000), workers can count on 400,000-1 million rubles (US$ 6,100-15,300). During the negotiations, we would like to find an acceptable option for both sides. However, the employer refuses to negotiate with unions.”
Ford Europe management also refused dialogue with the unions, saying that enough funds have been allocated, and the distribution is an internal matter of the local management in Vsevolozhsk.
The unions have sent a letter to Ford Motor management, headquartered in Dearborn, USA, including Bill Ford, the Executive Chairman of Ford Motor company.
Georg Leutert, IndustriALL director for the automotive industry, said:
“The closure of the plant would have dramatic social consequences for the city of Vsevolozhsk. Therefore, Ford must act quickly and gather all stakeholders – including the trade unions – around one table and initiate joint discussions that open sustainable perspectives for thousands of workers and their families."
Earlier, on 5 April, the plant workers adopted a joint statement, which entrusts the works council at Ford Vsevolozhsk to address the government of the Russian Federation in order to organize negotiations with potential buyers of the Ford plant site in Vsevolozhsk with mandatory participation of employees' representatives, as well as to employ all willing workers at a new enterprise.
Vadim Borisov, regional secretary of IndustriALL, comments,
“Ford and Ford Sollers had no strategy for the Russian market and now the workers have to pay for their inability. We support trade unions’ demands for fair payments, and we call on the government to ensure that a maximum of Ford Sollers employees can safeguard their jobs at the plant under a new owner."