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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ford, Union Seal Deal on Pay and Conditions

U.S. carmaker Ford has reached a deal on conditions and pay at its plant in Russia, giving its workers several long-awaited concessions, company and labor union officials said Thursday.

The leader of the trade union at Ford's St. Petersburg-based plant, Alexei Etmanov, said the management offered further concessions, including additional pay and vacations for those with hazardous work. But talks for more concessions will continue, he said by telephone from Vsevolozshk.

"There are still a lot of issues that we will be discussing," Etmanov said, without giving specific details.

He said the company acceded to an agreement Wednesday so as to avert a strike planned by the workers for the same day. Etmanov said the workers would not strike "for now."

Ford workers last month staged a daylong strike to persuade management into a collective agreement that would fix working hours, ban outsourcing and reduce safety risks.

The deal is a victory for the labor union, which has won several of the concessions it was seeking after the management had said it would not change its final offer of a wage increase of between 14 percent and 20 percent.

Under the agreement, wages for paint shop and welding shop workers will be 7 percent higher that those of other workers because of the hazardous conditions those employees have to deal with, Etmanov said. They will also have 12 additional days of leave, he said.

But he declined to say how much the plant's workers would receive with the new salary hike, saying the strike action "was not about the money." Ford acknowledged in the statement that it offered workers "improvements to other items," but it did not go into details.

Yekaterina Kulinenko, a Moscow-based spokeswoman for Ford, said the management and the workers had "agreed on the percentage" of workers to be outsourced, without giving a figure.

The one-year agreement covering the plant's 2,000 hourly-paid workers came into effect Thursday, Ford said in the statement.

"The signing of this collective agreement is very good news for all sides," said Theo Streit, the plant's general director, in the statement. Streit declined to offer details on the specific terms of the agreement, saying only that talks would continue on a weekly basis over the year.

"It's not a bad result," said Boris Kravchenko, head of the All-Russia Confederation of Labor, an umbrella organization that includes the Ford union. Only a handful of labor unions in Russia have achieved similar results in the past, he said.

Among the trade union's achievements was the agreement that 200 logistics employees whose positions were earmarked for outsourcing will now remain in the union and retain the same wages and benefits, Kravchenko said.