VW Kaluga

Logistics workers at VW’s assembly plant in Kaluga, Russia, carried out industrial action earlier this month in protest over plans to outsource some staff, trade union MPRA said in a statement on its Facebook page, which was posted on August 6.

Logistics workers implemented a go-slow policy at the plant based on following all official production requirements to the letter, said MPRA spokesman, Dmitry Trudovoi, which reduced assembly speed at the factory. However, this has since been disputed by VW, which said that during the three days of action the assembly line and supporting logistics flow continued to run as normal, meeting the carmaker’s production targets.

However, the three days of action taken from the August 6 followed similar action taken a week earlier by logistics workers in the bodyshop department at the plant, the MPRA said. At least 450 employees across several departments, representing around 10% of the total staff at the plant, have taken part in the dispute.

The MPRA is concerned about the OEM’s plans to transfer some of its employees to an outsourced operation, and in a recent letter to the management promised to fight the move “by all legal means” up to and including a full-scale strike at the plant. The union represents nearly 1,000 employees at the Kaluga site.

The Russian authorities have not so far become involved in the dispute. The Labour Ministry for the Kaluga region has not yet received any official notification of the strike from the union but it is closely following the situation, its press office said.

Natalia Kostyukovich, a spokeswoman for Volkswagen Group Rus, told local news outlet Tass that so far, the go-slow had not affected the operation of the plant. She also pointed out that since the beginning of 2018, the facility had hired 400 new staff.

According to the MPRA, however, Alexey Troshkin, a representative of the plant’s management, admitted to employees in a meeting with them that the plant had suffered certain losses on day one of the action.

On August 8, the plant’s management issued an appeal to its staff, stressing that the plan to outsource was just an adjustment to their legal status and that after the transfer, they would all be given jobs equivalent to their current positions in the company. The MPRA vowed to continue its industrial action, however, claiming that VW’s promise would not be kept and that the appeal involved no legal obligation on the OEM to do so.

The MPRA also stressed that its industrial action would only end when some kind of an agreement with management was struck.

Senior MPRA staff are due to meet with Oliver Grünberg, technical director of Volkswagen Group Rus, in coming days – a meeting the union has been after from the beginning. Grünberg is the person behind the whole outsourcing plan, which was devised in an effort to boost productivity at the Kaluga plant, the MPRA spokesperson told local news outlet KP40 recently.