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St. Petersburg, Russia – Ford workers in Russia have started industrial action over plans to close a plant including stopping work if there are any equipment problems.

Mikhail Sergeyev, head of a trade union which represents around a third of the St. Petersburg plant’s 900-strong workforce, told The Associated Press on Monday the so-called work-to-rule will continue until Ford begins negotiates over redundancy terms.

Under work-to-rule, workers abide strictly to the terms of their contracts.

Sergeyev said his union is pushing for more generous layoff packages equivalent to twice a worker’s annual salary, and plans to appeal to Ford’s U.S. management to get involved in the dispute.

He added that the union also opposed what he said were measures aimed “to scare the workers and make them drop their demands,” such as reduced layoff packages for workers who are frequently sick or considered unproductive.

Ford said last month that it’s leaving the Russian car market and closing two assembly plants and an engine plant, after years of lackluster sales through its Ford Sollers joint venture. Ford will keep making vans at another site through the joint venture, which as part of the restructuring program, is now majority owned by the Russian partner, Sollers.

Organized industrial action is uncommon in Russia, where many unions have close ties to management. The auto industry is a rare exception, though.

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