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Unions prepare campaign to keep Ford factories in Russia

21 March, 2019Ford union representatives and their national and international colleagues spent two days debating possible ways of safeguarding jobs at the Ford Sollers joint venture in Russia, and their response to the potential closure of other Ford plants, after the company announced a review of  its strategy in the country.

The 15 and 16 March meeting in St. Petersburg was initiated by IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Interregional Trade Union Workers Association (ITUWA) and the Ford Workers' Primary Trade Union Organization, who jointly represent workers’ interests at Ford Sollers plant in Vsevolozhsk, Russia.

IndustriALL automotive director Georg Leutert, Ford European Works Council secretary Hans Lawitzke and chairperson of the Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR) Boris Kravchenko also attended the meeting.  

The results of the review started by Ford at the beginning of 2019 are to be revealed in the second quarter of the year, but workers are already concerned about their future at the firm. Ford has announced it will shed at least 5,000 jobs in Germany, while it plans to close plants in France and a number of other European countries, with a further plant closure announced in Brazil.

Ford Sollers lost RUR 23.8 billion (US$ 369.5 million) in 2016 and although in 2017 the situation improved, the company still finished the year losing other RUR 13.6 billion (US$ 211 million). The results for 2018 are not yet available.

After a comprehensive analysis of Ford’s strategy, global trends and the Russian automotive industry, the unions decided that safeguarding the plant in Vsevolozhsk is their biggest target. The unions will try to stay informed and involved in the decision-making process on Ford’s future restructuring in Russia, and also seek support from local and global allies including the federal government. The unions plan to accompany their actions with a strong media campaign.

IndustriALL’s automotive director, Georg Leutert, said, “It was a productive meeting, and now we have clear directions for the work ahead. For us, the cornerstone is that the unions should be involved at all levels of discussion on the future of Ford workers in Russia. And we will extend our full solidarity support to them in this process.”