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Renault Moscow plant workers threaten strike over wages, safety

MOSCOW, April 12 (RIA Novosti) - The recently formed labor union at the Avtoframos plant, Renault's Russian subsidiary, intends to demand a wage increase, more salaried positions and improved safety measures for its workers, the union's head said Thursday.

In an interview with the leading business daily Kommersant, Ivan Kisilyov, the leader of the new labor union, said his organization will ask for an average monthly salary increase from the current 10,000-15,000 rubles (about $390-$580) to 20,000 rubles (about $770), and a doubling of the plant's current workforce of 2,500 people, or else its members will walk off the job.

"We are ready to go as far as striking in order to stand up for our demands," Kisilyov said, without specifying the possible date or scale of any action.

Experts said the plant's administration will most likely meet the union's demands and raise salaries because the company could lose a great deal more in case of a strike, as happened at the Ford-Vsevolzhsk plant in the Leningrad Region in the fall of 2005, and last February, when losses from a one-day work stoppage cost the company an estimated $4 million.

Kirill Chuiko, an expert with the financial corporation UralSib, told the newspaper that Renault Logan, the most popular model produced by Avtoframos in Moscow, will raise its current price of $10,000-11,000 by only $100-150 (a 1.3% increase) if salaries are raised by 30%.

The Avtoframos labor union was registered last week and joined the Interregional Labor Union of Car Manufacturers, which already comprises labor unions at Ford-Vsevolzhsk, Nokian Tyres, AvtoVAZ and the GM-AvtoVAZ joint venture.

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