April Fools’ Day was a sad day for the workers of the Ford Sollers factory in Vsevolozhsk in Russia. The company released a press release announcing 700 redundancies, and this is not a joke.
The company did not hold preliminary consultations with the trade union and specified the serious changes in the economic situation in Russia as the reason for the announced redundancies. The Russian Interregional Trade Union "Workers Association" - ITUWA, an affiliate of IndustriALL, intends to take counter measures.
In addition to cutting down one third of the workforce at the Ford Sollers Joint Venture in Vsevolozhsk the company announced plans of a complete stoppage of production during two months after 7 April and then after September the work would be organized only in one shift.
The company claims these tough measures are imposed by serious changes in the Russian economy due to the devaluation of Russian rouble and a considerable decline of the demand for middle class cars. According to the company the reduction of the staff is necessary for an active evolvement of the company under present conditions.
The company has already declared about the launch of a ‘Program of voluntary dismissals’, which would offer workers the possibility to resign on the basis of a mutual agreement. Workers who resign under the Program would receive 5-month salary as compensation.
Igor Temchenko, ITUWA leader at the Ford plant, said there was no preliminary meeting organized with ITUWA representatives. The board of directors informed the workers about the planned redundancies through a news release appearing in the mass media. Workers were notified about these plans only the following day. “The trade union ITUWA will certainly take counter measures. We believe the leadership of our factory tries to shift on workers the burden of their own responsibility for miscalculations in marketing and the planning department. We will fight to safeguard jobs or for a decent compensation for those who are cut down”, declared Temchenko.
The chairman of the ITUWA union Alexey Etmanov expressed support to the workers claims and demanded from the company, “In order to understand what workers can do is enough to look at Belgium and Brazil, where attempts were made to close down the Ford plants. In result, namely through the strikes and demonstrations workers managed to fight back a rather good financial compensation in Belgium, while in Brazil they have even managed to keep their factory. We will not give it up and will fight for every working place. We will demand good compensatory payments, which in Russia are good enough to be able to have the ends met while in search for another job. Some 10-20 salaries, this is what we want to talk about”.
Other automakers are also decreasing their production in Russia. Recent reports say Nissan is moving its plant in Saint Petersburg to a two-shift replacing three-shift day schedule as of 1 April.
Volkswagen is planning to decrease in 2014 the production at its plant in Kaluga by 15 thousand cars, down to annual 135 thousand, informed chairman of the ITUWA territorial organization Dmitri Trudovoi.