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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

AvtoVAZ Strike Goes Against Union

A planned one-hour strike at AvtoVAZ took place as planned on Tuesday, despite the opposition of the plant’s largest union and the hostility of plant security officers, who detained some of the organizers and tried to evict them from the grounds.

The strike was organized by an AvtoVAZ workers’ union called Unity, which has about 3,500 members, with support from the national All-Russia Trade Unions Federation. But it was opposed by the far larger union, Avtoselkhozmash, which automatically represents all of AvtoVAZ’s 120,000 employees.

"Do not go on strike!" was the refrain offered repeatedly by Mikhail Karagin, head of the larger union, in a one-hour live broadcast on Tolyatti television, according to BRiK, a local information agency.

But Pyotr Zolotaryov, head of the rival union Unity, said Tuesday that the strike went forward. The car-seat production line halted work for about three hours, he said, while the far larger and more crucial metal press — where 6,000 employees work — was shut down for an hour.

AvtoVAZ press secretary Denis Metalnikov said in a telephone interview Tuesday that the hostility of workers to a new restructuring plan has brought the plant large financial losses, and has left it with a line of more than 12,000 cars without seats.

Security officers tried to detain rival union head Zolotaryov but they were prevented by angry workers.

Yet strangely, Metalnikov was adamant that there was no strike Tuesday at the plant. "I was looking for a strike, but did not find one," he said.

Zolotaryov said that immediately before the strike was to begin, AvtoVAZ security detained three Unity officials: Nikolai Afanasiev, a worker from the assembly line, Zinaida Sobchuk, a worker from the car-seat production line, and Viktor Molokoyedov, deputy chief of Unity.

Zolotaryov said security officers also tried to detain him, but that angry workers refused to let them.

He said that security explained that employees were only allowed to move about the plant during their own work hours, and only in their own work areas.

But, Zolotaryov added, security did not seem aware that union officials are supposed to have free run of the plant at all times.

The security officers confiscated the work ID cards of the three detainees and tried to escort them outside the plant.

But Molokoyedov, one of those detained, is also an assistant to State Duma Deputy Anatoly Ivanov, and called his boss for help.

Ivanov, in a telephone interview Tuesday, said he had called Deputy Prosecutor Afanasy Derkach of Tolyatti to complain, and that within the hour Derkach had ordered the three AvtoVAZ workers freed — after which all three returned to help organize the strike.