Vologda Machine Plant Workers Rally against Layoffs

In Vologda, Machine Plant Workers Stage Rally against New Layoffs
March 23, 2015

Today at 10 a.m., workers from the Vologda Machine Plant (VMP) staged a rally on Revolution Square. The occasion was a new round of layoffs.

meeting_in_vologdaVMP workers on the march in Vologda. The first placard from the left reads, “Is this what our grandfathers fought for?” The second placard from the right reads, “The people’s interests outweigh the owner’s interests.” Photo courtesy of By24.org

As protesters told a Radio Premier correspondent, lists of workers slated for firing had recently been published. It is planned that at least fifty more people will be fired. Given that the company now has about ninety employees, a new round of layoffs might simply kill the plant, according to protesters. In addition, workers claimed that management had stopped paying them back wages.

The demonstration moved from Revolution Square to Drygin Square. Originally, protesters had planned to block traffic. Ultimately, however, they took the decision not to spoil the morning for commuters. They rallied briefly on the porch of the regional legislative assembly building before heading towards the “white house.”

VMP workers are now rallying outside the regional government house.

After a series of strikes in February, the plant was subjected to several checks by law enforcement agencies. The regional government announced it was monitoring the situation at the plant, and last week it promised to monitor the payment of wage arrears. Criminal charges have been filed against VMP management. According to the regional prosecutor’s officer, money was “siphoned” from the company.


Workers Rebel in Vologda, Russia
March 23, 2015

The huge cost of the undeclared war in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine, Western economic sanctions, the slump in oil prices, and the concomitant economic crisis in Russia have had an immediate impact on the country’s ordinary citizens. Today, March 23, workers from the local machine plant in the city of Vologda came to the residence of the region’s governor and almost stormed the building. Authorities had to urgently summon police and Interior Ministry troops in full combat gear, reports local publication newsvo.ru.***

The boiling point for workers at the Vologda Machine Plant, who as it was had not been paid for eight months, was the company’s decision to undertake mass layoffs. A list of fifty names of employees who would be fired was posted at the plant entrance. Given that only ninety workers had remained employed at the plant, such a layoff would be tantamount to the plant’s death.

At first the indignant workers, bearing placards, went to the regional legislative assembly. However, realizing that the local deputies were of little use to them, they moved to the “white house,” the regional administration building.

After numerous threats from police to file criminal charges against the protesters for an unauthorized mass rally, the workers nevertheless succeeded in meeting with Vologda Region Deputy Governor Alexei Kozhevnikov. He sincerely sympathized with the VMP workforce. He assured them the situation at the plant was being constantly monitored and promised to solve all their problem—after, however, bankruptcy proceedings and a change of ownership. A court hearing on the matter is scheduled for May 6.

According to the Vologda regional prosecutor’s office, corruption had flourished at VMP in recent years, and money had simply been “siphoned” from the company. The management at the plant, which handles defense orders, had recently been completely replaced, and criminal charges filed against the previous management. The company’s assets, including manufacturing equipment, had been seized by court bailiffs in lieu of the company’s debts, and heating had been turned off on the shop floors for nonpayment. Even under these conditions, VMP workers, who had not seen a paycheck for eight months, had continued to fill orders, most of them defense-related.

*** Editor’s note. This detail does not seem borne out by the article linked to, which I have translated, above, although the videos posted there do show some kind of (mostly verbal) confrontation with police. But there is definitely no mention of “Interior Ministry troops in full combat gear” in the first article, as claimed by the authors of the second article.

Thanks to Comrade DR for help with finding source materials and the initial heads-up.