Workers Strike at Renault-owned Romanian Automaker

Workers want raises since the company is doing well.

Thousands of workers at Renault-owned Romanian automaker Dacia stayed on strike for a second day on March 26 as talks between union leaders and management failed to produce a deal. Workers demanding higher wages gathered before the factory in Pitesti, northwest of Bucharest, and accused the French company of not taking care of its employees.

"We are not a French colony," one of the factory's 13,000 workers said. Another said: "The money leaves Romania to benefit France."

Workers are demanding monthly raises of 550 lei ($231) as well as increases for Christmas and Easter bonuses. They say that while the average gross monthly salary at Dacia is 1,064 lei a month, about 2,500 workers with no seniority are taking in just 780 lei. Dacia has proposed raises of 144 lei per month plus bonuses that would increase the average salary by 12%.

The union has said nearly 80% of the factory's workers are on strike, while the company put the number at 49%.

Workers have argued that the company's performance allows management to meet their demands. According to the Evenimentul Zilei daily, the union has cited a 62% increase in sales over the first two months of this year in making its case.

Dacia chief executive Francois Fourmont warned in a letter that the union's demands would threaten the factory's future as Renault plans to open sites in Morocco, India and Russia in the coming years, the paper reported.

Union representatives for Renault workers in all countries where the company is present have expressed their support for Dacia employees. Dacia, formerly a state-owned company, was taken over by Renault in 1999.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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