IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Interregional Trade Union "Workers Association" (ITUWA) has initiated mass lawsuits by employees against the management of the company AvtoVAZ. 180 workers are seeking financial compensation for harmful working conditions,which was not paid for several years.
ITUWA has currently collected 180 individual claims. Each worker is demanding between 70,000 and 100,000 RUR (US $1,200-$1,700). Since April, the union had been receiving collective claims for a class action lawsuit from the workers. There were about 300 people in "the case of harm", as it was called by activists of the ITUWA. In general, about 1,000 workers have the right to compensation. Judges suspended the trial, citing incorrect paperwork. The union had to re-collect claims from workers.
Sergey Topolov, the chair of the shop committee of ITUWA says:
“We were faced with the fact that the administration, especially line managers began to frighten workers with dismissal. As a result, people who previously were ready to participate in the case collectively refused to apply individually.”
The union will support workers at all stages of the proceedings. Claims will be grouped and an ITUWA lawyer will represent workers’ interests.
The debt of the company to workers has accumulated since the end of 2013, when the Federal law "On special assessment of working conditions" was adopted. The law required AvtoVAZ management to immediately assess working conditions at each workplace and to set compensation depending on the degree of harm. However, the assessment was only conducted in July 2015, and its results were not officially announced until 6 February 2017. The company insists that compensation will be paid from that date on. Trade union activists are certain that it is necessary to pay for all the period since the adoption of the law, and are ready to fight for their rights.
AvtoVAZ is the largest manufacturer of passenger cars in Russia, and is owned by Renault-Nissan Alliance and the Russian state company Rostec.
According to Sergey Topolov, the trial will last until the end of the year.