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A court ruled that workers at a Ford car manufacturing plant
A court ruled that workers at a Ford car manufacturing plant near St. Petersburg postpone a strike which went ahead Wednesday by 20 days, a company spokesperson said.

Some 1,500 workers staged a one-day strike and stopped production demanding higher wages, the plant trade union chief said earlier on Wednesday. Alexei Etmanov said the strike could resume on November 20 for an indefinite period if managers do not promise to increase wages from March 1, 2008.

The court upheld a suit by Ford demanding the strike be postponed so that an agreement on working minimums could be reached between unions and management, Yekaterina Kulinenko said.

Kulinenko said the court would consider another Ford suit on Friday, calling Wednesday's one-day walkout unlawful, because unions had failed to provide managers with 10-days advance notification of the action.

Etmanov said the strike organizers had so far made no comment following the court ruling.

The U.S. auto giant's sole Russian plant employs 2,200 workers, with an average wage of about 21,000 rubles ($850) a month, according to the plant's administration.

The plant's trade union said the decision to start the strike was taken after managers had repeatedly rejected pay rise demands first made in July.

A previous dispute between management and employees was resolved after a one-day strike in March 2007, when the plant administration made concessions, concluding a new collective labor contract which provided higher wages and better employment benefits.

Ford produces its Focus models in Russia, and plans to increase output from the current 72,000 cars to 100,000 cars a year by 2009. The carmaker also plans to launch the production of 25,000 Mondeo models a year.


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