Workers go on strike at Ford's Russian car plant

ST PETERSBURG, Russia Tue Nov 6, 2007 4:45pm EST

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ST PETERSBURG, Russia Nov 7 (Reuters) - Workers at Ford Motor Co's (F.N) car plant in Russia went on strike on Wednesday to demand higher wages, a senior trade union official told Reuters.

"The conveyer has stopped. We started a one-day warning strike at midnight," union leader Alexei Etmanov said by telephone.

Workers were demanding an increase in the basic monthly wage to up to 28,000 roubles ($1,137) from the current 19,000 roubles.

Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, has asked a Leningrad regional court to declare the strike illegal, saying organisers had not followed the correct procedures for industrial action.

Ford spokeswoman Ekaterina Kulinenko said the union did not inform the plant's administration of their intention to strike.

"We have asked the court to delay the strike for a month," Kulinenko said.

The strike comes as Russians celebrate the 90th anniversary of the October 1917 Bolshevik revolution, which heralded the creation of the world's first communist state.

Workers at the plant near Russia's second-largest city of St Petersburg staged a strike in February over pay and conditions and won concessions.

With Russian consumer prices already running at least 1.3 percentage points ahead of the government's 8.0 percent annual inflation target, factory and business managers across Russia are facing demands for higher wages.

Ford's Russian plant produced 60,000 cars last year, mainly the Focus model, and had planned to increase output this year to 75,000 cars. (Writing by Denis Pinchuk, editing by Leslie Gevirtz; +7 495 775 1242) ($1=24.62 Rouble)

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