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Attack on union at Russian auto supplier disrupts production at GM

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23 August, 2012Vlankas, a company which supplies bumpers to GM in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, refuses to recognize the Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA) local. Several unionized workers were dismissed, causing production problems both at Vlankas and its customer, General Motors.

According to the ITUA, which operates both at GM and Vlankas, GM assembly shop stopped on 13 August due to the breakdown of supplies from Vlankas. The management of Vlankas dismissed several union activists, causing production problems both at Vlankas and its customer, GM.

The union local was founded at Vlankas in April 2012. In July the activists tried to inform the management about the creation of the union. However, the company refused to receive th eunion’s registration documents. What’s more, the management handed the activists notices of dismissal and sent them home. As a result, the quality division at shift B was left without workers, thus no one could control the quality of the product and supply bumpers to GM.

Furthermore, the company went on to create a yellow union, called ‘Union for Justice’. Workers are under pressure to leave the ITUA and join the new union.

Recent policies of the Vlankas included the introduction of an hourly pay scheme, which significantly reduced the workers’ income. Skilled workers have since been leaving the plant. The management replaced them with migrant workers, mostly from Middle Asia, housing them in trailers on the territory of the plant.