Since being posted on VKontakte, the letter has garnered the attention of local and national news outlets. The workers state they have been furloughed for the past five months – during which time they have participated in a federal temporary work program, cutting grass, collecting garbage and painting walls – due to a lack of foreign-made components needed to produce Lada Vesta automobiles.
The upper management at AvtoVAZ, the state-owned car manufacturer, supposedly is seeking to relocate production of the Lada Vesta to a facility in Tolyatti, which has been the center of Russia’s automotive industry since Soviet times. In their letter to Putin, the workers claim that the management has lobbied to relocate production since the Izhevsk plant can’t produce the 250,000 vehicles reportedly needed for next year, but only 150,000 vehicles annually. However, the letter questions whether so many Lada Vestas can be sold given the significant price hikes in the Russian automobile market and even accuses the management of deliberately misleading employees.
Interfax later reported that AvtoVAZ is offering employees at the Izhevsk plant a lump-sum payment
of several months’ salary, as well as assistance with finding new permanent work in Udmurtia, if they quit voluntarily.
Sanctions and the closure of foreign manufacturers’ plants have strongly impacted Russia’s automotive industry. In May, domestic car sales collapsed
83.5% y-o-y, with only 24,268 new cars sold (123,110 fewer versus May 2021). Many Russian-owned plants have been forced to pause or reduce production due to shortages of parts.
Digest by Mack Tubridy for the Russia.Post editorial team.