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Threat of job cuts at Volkswagen plant in Russia

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20 May, 2020At Volkswagen’s plant in Kaluga, Russia, workers who voluntarily resign are offered five to six months wages. IndustriALL affiliate ITUWA, is advising members to wait until an official process to reduce jobs is in place, as it would be more beneficial for the workers.

Due to closure of the night shift at Volkswagen’s Kaluga plant, the auto giant wants to cut 278 jobs. On 12 May, workers were offered to quit their jobs under a "voluntary dismissal" programme; in return they would be paid five to six months wages. If there are not enough “volunteers”, Volkswagen intends to start an official process to reduce the number of employees.

132 workers have so far agreed, most of whom are close to retirement, says ITUWA.

According to the other IndustriALL affiliate at the plant, Automobile and Farm Machinery Workers' Union of Russia (AWF), the number of wages paid in return for a voluntary resignation was reduced from six to five if the decision was made after 18 May.

ITUWA is urging workers not to succumb to company pressure, as finding a new job during the pandemic may prove problematic.

Dmitry Trudovoy, ITUWA chairman, says:

“If an official job reduction process is launched in a month, workers would be laid off on 15 August or 15 September, instead of immediately if they leave voluntarily. According to Russian law, workers will receive another six to seven months’ wages from now, plus bonuses, sick leave and vacation allowances for the next few working months.

“This makes the legal reduction procedure substantially more profitable for workers compared to getting only six months’ wages if they resign now.”

In October 2019, Volkswagen management decided to close the night shift by summer 2020, and consequently did not extend 80 fixed-term contracts in December 2019 and another 92 fixed-term contracts in April this year. The already difficult situation was aggravated by COVID-19 pandemic.

ITUWA estimates that wage costs make up just over 2 per cent of the company’s budget and cutting jobs is not a necessary measure. The union has asked Volkswagen management to abandon or to postpone the job cuts until the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, giving workers a better chance to find new jobs.  

On 18 May, the Volkswagen plant in Kaluga switched to a four-day working week, a schedule that will most likely remain in place untill the end of 2020.