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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Truck Crisis Worsens as ZiL Sends Workers Home

ZiL, one of Russia's biggest truck companies, has sent 24,000 workers, or 50 percent of its Moscow work force, on forced vacations until March because of bad debts and shortages, a company official said Wednesday.

Russia's two other big truck makers, GAZ and KamAZ, have also been forced to slash production because of a deep financial crisis in the truck industry. ZiL workers have been reduced to a four-day work week since December

Vladimir Nosov, ZiL's public relations officer, said for some workers vacations had long been scheduled to begin this month and they will get pay equal to their monthly salaries, 115,000 rubles on average ($86), but about 15,000 of those who have been laid off will only get one-off benefits of 40,000 rubles.

The factory slashed truck production by one-third in 1993, down from 146,770 trucks produced in 1992, because customers either could not deliver upfront payments or did not pay for trucks they had received on credit, Nosov said.

However, the consumer services division which makes refrigerators and microwave ovens is thriving and keeping workers busy for three eight-hour shifts six days a week, Nosov said.

He said the company is owed 15 billion rubles by Central Asian countries for vehicles already delivered. He said the factory had appealed to the government and the president for tax breaks in December, but no response has arrived yet. The industry has also appealed to the Russian government for protection against imported competitors.

Workers at the GAZ truck factory in Nizhny Novgorod have been working a four-day week for over a month. At the KamAZ truck company in Tatarstan, about 80 percent of the plant's 140,000 staff maintained four-day weeks for most of December. KamAZ is also recovering from a fire which devastated its engine and transmission plants earlier this year.