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The number of workers on strike at a Ford car plant
The number of workers on strike at a Ford car plant near St. Petersburg has decreased from 1,500 to some 400, Alexei Etmanov, chairman of the plant's trade union, said on Friday.

The trade union launched an indefinite strike on November 20, stopping the Ford Focus production line at midnight (9:00 p.m. GMT), until its demands for higher wages from March 2008 were met.

Although Etmanov said that picketing was halted on Friday, he remained defiant, saying that the trade union did not intend to call off its strike.

"The production line will be launched only after a supplementary wages agreement to the current labor contract has been signed," he said.

The plant management has said that negotiations are possible only after the production line has resumed work.

Average wages at the U.S. auto giant's sole Russian plant are about 21,000 rubles ($850) per month, according to the factory's administration.

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 agreement providing higher wages and better employment benefits.

In early November, the workers held a 19-hour strike after management had repeatedly rejected pay rise demands. A court later upheld a suit by Ford demanding that the strike be postponed so that an agreement could be reached between union representatives and management.


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