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Russian auto workers union oppose sanctions

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18 November, 2019IndustriALL affiliate Automobile and Farm Machinery Workers' Union of Russia (AFW) claims that US sanctions are negatively affecting the Russian automotive industry and threatens around 400,000 jobs.

In April 2018, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on Russia’s second biggest car manufacturer, GAZ Group.

The enforcement of the sanctions against the carmaker have been postponed a few times, currently until 31 March 2020, but many suppliers and partners have already stopped working with GAZ Group.

In December 2018, Daimler stopped manufacturing Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, and a range of projects with Volkswagen have been suspended over to the threat of sanctions.

GAZ Group is dependent on imported components, which they will not be able to buy from abroad if the sanctions come into effect. The termination of contracts with a number of American and European suppliers would lead to production shutdowns and mass layoffs. 40,000 GAZ Group workers and around 360,000 workers along the supply chain could lose their jobs.

“GAZ Group workers have been living in uncertainty for 1,5 years. The sanctions are a threat to the entire automobile industry in Russia, around 400,000 people working for GAZ Group, its suppliers, partners and dealers and in the industry, all depend on GAZ’ operations. If you include families, over one million people may lose their income and will not be able to pay for health care, education and will lose their social guarantees,”

says Andrey Fefelov, AFW chairman.

The AFW believes that US automotive companies wish to conquer the Russian market to suppress the leading Russia's automaker, to make it weak and unable to win competition, and this is an idea behind the US sanctions.

“IndustriALL Global Union has approved an action plan for fair trade and industrial policy in which trade defense mechanisms are acknowledged, as long as they don’t affect jobs in other countries. Our foreign suppliers are also suffering losses, as they cannot make any long-term plans because of the sanctions. People in both Russia and other countries are suffering; according to industry experts, Germany for example sustains billion losses because of the US sanction policy against Russia.

“We need to protect workers’ rights and ensure fair trade conditions and fair competition. We need to ensure that workers are not targeted by sanction policies,”

says Andrey Fefelov.

The AFW has appealed to the US administration through the US Ambassador in Russia, requesting that sanctions are lifted.