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VW workers reject new work schedule in Russia

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18 April, 2013Volkswagen introduced a new work schedule at its plant in Kaluga, Russia, for the summer, requiring work on Saturdays and Sundays almost every week.

The management of the Volkswagen plant in Kaluga, Russia, has recently calculated a new work schedule for the summer period. Due to the combination of factors, such as an increase in demand, workers have to work 6 to 7 days almost every week.

Workers were pressured by foremen to accept the new schedule in writing. The Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA), which organizes VW workers in Kaluga, decided to take collective action.

On 5 April some 400 VW workers gathered in the administration quarters to hand over their demands. They chanted ‘We are not serfs – give us back our weekends!’ Pushing aside a small security force, they entered the human resources department office, handing their demands to Dr. Weber, a German trade union relations officer.

On 8 April ITUA activists met with the representatives of the company The management was still hostile to the demands of the union. Finally it was decided that a survey would be held to discover workers’ common opinion. Another meeting on 15 April didn’t bring any results. The ITUA is collecting signatures against the new schedule. The activists will meet again with the management on 19 April.

ITUA urged the workers to be firm, not to cave in to the management’s pressure, and to express their true opinion about the new work schedule.

"There have always been, and always will be issues with the work schedule. The reasons are many: from the economic crisis to the modernization of production. However, the workers do not in any way cause these issues. Even so, the management easily shifts the burden of problems on workers’ shoulders,” says Dmitry Trudovoy, president of the ITUA local at Volkswagen.

"Therefore I’d like to ask the workers of our plant: how long will we suffer the management’s arbitrary treatment and their reluctance to consider our problems? Isn’t it the time to fight for radical change, a 35-hour five-day work week, which will resolve all the work schedule issues once and for all?” he concluded.