ST. PETERSBURG -- Workers at U.S. carmaker Ford Motor Co.'s Russian assembly plant are staging a go-slow strike in a dispute over wages, union and company officials said on Tuesday.
The factory in St Petersburg, Russia's second city, was one of the first to be opened in the country by a foreign carmaker and plans to turn out 36,000 Ford Focus models this year. It is Ford's only plant in Russia.
"The go-slow strike has started. We are working strictly to rule, we are not exceeding our targets and therefore production levels at the factory have fallen," a member of the plant's strike committee told Reuters.
A spokeswoman for Ford's Russian operations, Yekaterina Kulinenko, said cars were still coming off the assembly line. She said she could not put a figure on how much the strike action would cost the company.
"Ford is ready to hold negotiations, and meetings with the unions continue. But strike action is not a constructive way of dealing with this dispute," Kulinenko said.
France's Renault also has a factory in Russia while Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. is planning to build a major plant. German media has reported that Volkswagen AG is looking at assembling its cars in Russia.
Foreign carmakers are being attracted to Russia by ballooning demand for their vehicles as Russian consumers see their incomes rise and switch from cheaper domestic cars.
Russia has set high customs duties on imported cars to protect its struggling domestic car industry, but foreign companies can reduce the tax burden by assembling the cars in Russia from imported components.