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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ford Strike Over but Talks Continue

Itar-TassZyuganov speaking outside the plant late Wednesday as Etmanov looks on.
Ford's plant resumed production Thursday as company management and workers scrambled to reach a compromise after a one-day strike over conditions and pay ended without agreement.

The Ford negotiations ended Thursday evening with no agreement and were to resume Friday, union leader Alexei Etmanov said.

The sides were nowhere near a compromise, Etmanov said by cell phone. Asked whether the workers would stage another strike, Etmanov said the current round of negotiations needed to be finished first.

Ford spokeswoman Yekaterina Kulinenko declined to comment on the talks.

Boris Kravchenko, head of the All-Russia Confederation of Labor, an umbrella organization that includes the Ford union, predicted that the talks would end soon. "Both sides understand what they need," he said.

Management is offering workers a pay raise of 14 percent to 20 percent, interest-free loans and a one-off loyalty bonus of 10,000 rubles ($380) for those who have worked at the plant for more than five years. Workers counter that fixed working hours, a ban on outsourcing and reducing safety risks -- all spelled out in a collective agreement -- are more important.

Ford's assembly line began operating at midnight after some 1,500 workers brought the plant to a 24-hour standstill Wednesday.

Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov, who heads the A Just Russia party, met Thursday with about 200 Ford workers in a community center in Vsevolozhsk, the town near St. Petersburg where the Ford plant in located. "I am on your side," Mironov told the workers, his party said in a statement.

"He was received very warmly," said Yulia Sokolova, a member of the party's Leningrad region branch.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov met with the workers Wednesday night. Afterward, he sent an appeal to Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov to defend the workers' rights.

Mironov and Zyuganov were in northwest Russia to meet constituents.

Yabloko and the United Civil Front have also expressed support. Garry Kasparov, the former chess player and leader of the United Civil Front, "is watching the events closely," said party representative Olga Kurnosova, adding that he would probably meet with the workers during a visit to St. Petersburg in early March.

Ivan Bonchev, an automotive analyst with Ernst & Young, expressed doubt that the labor unrest would jeopardize production plans, saying the strike was not the first time that Ford had had a labor issue at its Russian plant.