17:10 GMT +322 March 2018
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    Russian Ford workers continue picket

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    ST. PETERSBURG, December 3 (RIA Novosti) - Strikers at a Ford plant near St. Petersburg have resumed their picket of the factory, the chairman of the plant's trade union said on Monday.

    Around 1,000 workers at the factory halted production on November 20, demanding a 30% wage increase. However, on November 28, some 600-700 workers crossed the picket line and production was partially resumed.

    There are currently some 650 workers on strike, but a heavy police presence has so far largely rendered ineffective picketers' efforts to prevent strike-breakers from entering the factory.

    On Monday, the Ford Russia management is set to meet with the trade union to discuss its demands.

    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 providing higher wages and increased employment benefits.

    Average wages at the U.S. auto giant's sole Russian plant are about 21,000 rubles ($860) a month, according to the factory administration.

    About $230 million has been invested in the Russian plant since the production of Ford Focus models started in 2002.

    The ongoing Ford strike has been heralded by many Russian social observers as the birth of organized union activity in post-Soviet Russia.

    Unions in the U.S.S.R were mainly concerned with productivity, morale and the organization of workers' yearly holidays. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the role of trade unions in society was somewhat muddled, and the Ford pickets represent the strongest union action in Russia for many years.

    However, Boris Kravchenko, president of the All-Russian Confederation of Labor, says the workers are not civic heroes, but simply "fighting to improve their work conditions."

    "Don't make revolutionaries out of the Ford strikers," he told the Moscow News.

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