Famed Russian Factory to Lay Off Up to 1,200 Workers

Steel factory supplies Russian carmakers

An iconic Russian steel factory announced on April 28 that it was laying off up to 1,200 workers as the country struggles with the impact of the global economic crisis.

The layoffs are to take place at Petrostal, part of the giant Kirov Factory in Russia's former imperial capital of Saint Petersburg, where striking workers played a role in overthrowing the Russian monarchy in 1917.

"We announced layoffs at Petrostal of 1,200 people out of 2,400 but we hope that only 800 people will be affected, including workers and managers," Kirov Factory spokesman Cheslav Germanovich said.

In all around 8,000 people work at the Kirov Factory, which is one of the main industrial enterprises in northwestern Russia and supplies the Russian carmakers Kamaz, GAZ and Avtovaz.

Known before the Bolshevik Revolution as the Putilov Factory, the plant was the site of a strike in February 1917 that unleashed a chain of wider protests culminating in the forced abdication of Tsar Nicholas II.

Russia has been hit hard by the global economic crisis as prices for its major export commodities, including oil and metals, have plummeted.

The country's unemployment rate reached 10% of the active population in March, with the number of jobless reaching 7.5 million people, according to a report from the Economic Development Ministry.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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