Russian unions fight to save Ford plant

Russian unions fight to save Ford plant

19.02.2019

Workers fear that the Ford-Sollers plant in Vsevolozhsk, Leningrad region, Russia, will close, at a cost of more than 1,000 jobs. Their trade unions have launched a campaign against the closure of the plant and called for support from global allies.

The works council at Ford Vsevolozhsk, comprised of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Interregional Trade Union “Workers Association” (ITUWA) and the local Ford trade union organization, issued a joint statement on 15 February.

Although the closure of the Vsevolozhsk plant has not been confirmed, Ford announced in January 2019 that it would review its development strategy in Russia. Depending on the review, the plant in Vsevolozhsk and two plants for the production of cars and engines in the Republic of Tatarstan may be closed. Leningrad region authorities have an agreement with the company’s management to continue the plant’s operation in 2019, but this does not secure the future of Ford plants in Russia beyond this date.

The Vsevolozhsk works council appealed for support to IndustriALL and to the Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR), and intends to forward their proposals to the European management of the Ford company.

The unions have joined forces to urge management to enter into a constructive dialogue. They propose using the expertise of the unions and workers to develop a plan that will help to safeguard jobs, make the plant viable and to help Ford return to the successful times of the past.

Igor Temchenko, chair of ITUWA in the Leningrad region and Saint-Petersburg, says,

“In our opinion, local management does not assess all the risks associated with the liquidation of the enterprise and the mass dismissal of employees. The trade unions have proposals for reducing production costs, as well as for the development of the company. As a result, these measures will save the plant in Vsevolozhsk.”

The Ford-Sollers joint venture in Vsevolozhsk has operated since 2001, and produces Focus and Mondeo models. Presently, the plant employs 1,020 people on a one shift regime. Approximately 600 are production staff and 400 are office and management staff. Over the past four years, the plant has operated part time.

Vadim Borisov, regional secretary of IndustriALL, comments:

“The example of the Ford company once again emphasizes the importance of a social dialogue with trade unions from the moment the company enters the Russian market. At this first stage, the company’s agreement with the government to commence proceedings should include employee guarantees and a formula to calculate severance payments in case of massive dismissals or closure of the business. We support the demands of trade unions in Vsevolozhsk and urge Ford plant management to engage in a constructive social dialogue.”

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