FORD STRIKE IN RUSSIA ENDS

The three-week strike at the Ford factory in Vsevolozhsk, located right outside St. Petersburg, ended on Dec. 14. Ford workers are among the lowest-paid factory workers in Europe, making between 16,000 and 25,000 rubles ($600-1,000) a month. This is comparable to auto factory wages paid in Latin America.

Ford used office workers to maintain one production shift, and toward the end of the strike managed to start a second. Nevertheless, the strike crippled production and exhausted the union’s strike fund. The police harassed the picketers and strike leaders were threatened with arrest.

Ford workers voted to go back to work after the bosses agreed to a wage increase. The union and the company agreed to settle all unresolved issues by Feb. 1. This was the longest strike in the post-Soviet era, the first under the new Labor Code and the first where strikers won a general amnesty against reprisals.

The workers failed to win their demands of a 30 percent wage increase, higher pensions and reducing the work day. But a strike leader, reflecting the fighting mood of the workers said, “I think [Ford] should agree to concessions. They would hardly want to see a new strike in the spring.”

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