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Impressive victory at Volkswagen in Kaluga, Russia

23 May, 2013Workers organized by the International Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA) won back weekend holidays in Summer.

On 22 May ITUA activists met with Volkswagen management in Kaluga, Russia. The management agreed to pay double for work on weekends in the Summer and weekend overtime work would be done only on a voluntary basis.

The management planned to stop operations at the plant for a week in August to prepare for the production of the new model, Škoda Rapid. The management’s solution was to distribute the week’s working time on the weekends in Summer without additional pay and as normal working days.

Workers were outraged by what appeared to be forced overtime work on weekends without additional pay. On 5 April, 400 workers gathered in the management quarters to hand over their demands in writing.  However, the position of the management didn’t change. The negotiations came to a deadlock, and the union began to prepare for a strike.

The local court prohibited the strike on 12 May in order to hold another hearing and decide whether the strike was legal. On 22 May the court ruled that the strike could be carried out. On the very same day the management agreed to the union’s demands.

The workers will be paid two thirds of the normal wage for the week’s downtime in August, in accordance with the Russian laws. And the overtime work on weekends will be voluntary and paid double, again, in full accordance with Russian labour legislation.

The ITUA congratulates the workers with this impressive victory. However, states,

This doesn’t mean we sit back. What we achieved can be easily lost. Problems with work schedule will appear again and again. Therefore we have to strengthen our ranks, recruit more VW workers into the union, and begin a fight for 35-hour work week!

The victory was not without a price. VW workers were under constant pressure when they protested against the management’s plans and prepared for a strike. Dmitry Trudovoy, president of the ITUA local at VW, was summoned to the police.

IndustriALL Global Union will closely monitor the situation at Volkswagen in Kaluga with assistance of the IndustriALL regional office in Moscow.