'Give us same pay as Western workers' - Ford strikers

The Ford car plant near St. Petersburg in Russia is at a standstill, with workers on strike demanding pay increases of up to 30 per cent. The U.S. automaker says the workers' demands are excessive, and won't negotiate with them until 26 November.

The workers believe they are worth just as much as staff at other Ford plants in Western Europe. And they are prepared to go on strike indefinitely, without pay, to make their point.

They want the average wage at the factory increased from around $US 870 a month to more than $US 1100 next year. They are also demanding more benefits.

Ford points out that the salaries it pays are among the highest for the car industry in the region. It suggests its liberal attitude towards co-operating with its trade union may have fuelled the problem.

Ford's Public Affairs Manager Ekaterina Kulinenko says the strike is “unnecessary”. “We think we need to start negotiations as soon as possible, but – as we already told the trade union – Ford is not going to negotiate during the strike,” Kulinenko said.
Ford won't put a number on how much money it’s losing with its Russian plant out of action – but analysts estimate it to be around $US 5 MLN a day.

Strikers say they won't go back to work until they get the salary increases they're after.