ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) -- About 100 workers of the Ford Motor Co. assembly plant on Friday protested the introduction of a four-day working week amid the slumping demand for cars.
The plant's managers intend to cut the working week from June through October, said the plant's spokeswoman Yekaterina Kulinenko.
"We gathered to protest such measures because we understand that it will lead to a salary cut of about 25 percent," said the plant's union leader Alexei Etmanov who led the protest in the town of Vsevolozhsk outside St.Petersburg where the plant is located.
The plant hasn't been working on Fridays for the past four weeks, but workers were paid two-thirds of their salary due for that day, Etmanov said.
Kulinenko said the move was caused by a drop in demand for cars amid the financial crisis.
"The sales of Ford Focus cars produced in Vsevolozhsk dropped by 40 percent during the first four months of the year," she said. "Therefore we had to make the unpopular decision to cut the volume of work and, accordingly, the working week in order to save the working positions at the plant."
Ford plant began its work in Vsevolozhsk outside St.Petersburg in 2002. The plant, which currently employs about 2,000 workers, produced 65,000 Ford Focus and Ford Mondeo cars last year.
Foreign automakers had been looking to the Russian market to bolster flagging sales in the more saturated Western countries, but those hopes have been dimmed as Russia's economy is hammered by the financial crisis.