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Soviet Tractor Plant Hit by Labor Strife

December 26, 1987|United Press International

MOSCOW — Employees of a tractor engine plant staged a weeklong demonstration against a plan for them to work 15 additional Saturdays and resolved the dispute in negotiations with the plant directors, the Izvestia newspaper said Friday.

The protest at the Yaroslavl tractor works in Yaroslavl, northeast of Moscow, marked the third instance of labor dissatisfaction reported since September over work changes in connection with the economic reforms of Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

His perestroika , or restructuring, calls in part for a factory's success to be based on profitability, not on fulfilling plans dictated by economic managers in Moscow. Plants would be self-financing under the new system, and there could be bankruptcies.

The labor strife at Yaroslavl began Dec. 11 when about 50 workers gathered in front of the plant at the end of the first shift and hoisted placards saying "Everybody to the Meeting" and "We Are for an Eight-Hour Day."

The workers said they were protesting a management decision, confirmed by the plant's official Communist Party-controlled trade union, to cut their regular eight-hour day by 10 minutes, making them work 7 hours and 50 minutes during the week plus 15 Saturdays during the year.

By the second day of the protest, the number of disgruntled workers carrying placards and joining in the demonstrations grew to 300, Izvestia said.

An initiative group, selected by the workers and not connected with the Communist Party or party-controlled trade unions, met with management over the week, Izvestia said.

The negotiations ended Dec. 18 in a compromise. The workers agreed to work the 15 Saturdays in 1988 but only eight in 1989 and none in 1990, Izvestia said.

On Sept. 16, the Moscow News newspaper reported that bus workers at Chekov, south of Moscow, struck because of new work rules that would have meant pay reductions because of an inability to fulfill new work plans.

A three-day strike at a bus construction plant in the city of Likino, also near Moscow, was reported by the Moscow News on Oct. 14. The newspaper did not say when the strike occurred but said the workers protested new work rules that would reduce their pay.

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