Autoworkers face changed industry - Page 2 - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-23-2007, 01:52 PM
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Global Market Affects Russian Auto Workers

Global market affects Russian auto worker By Uri Domoniska, Pravda Press Writer
Sun Jul 20, 3:04 PM ET

When started working on the assembly line at Avtovas two decades ago, Boris Novochesky thought he had a job for life. But he no longer feels he can count on it.

"We would show up at work and begin drinking Vodka in time for the first bell. Our supervisors never cared because they were the ones pouring the drinks," said Boris, a windscreen wiper installer.

Russian car giant Avtovas produces around 750,000 vehicles each year, and access to servicing and spare parts is widely available. The classic Zhiguli - better known in Europe as the much maligned Lada - still vastly outnumbers other cars across the country.

But recently the Lada's unassailable lead has taken a knock, with falling sales and a rise in costs.


Chased by a growing tide of second-hand foreign imports in its slipstream, the Lada faces a worrying future.

In recent months, a new "anti-crisis" production schedule has been imposed at the gigantic Togliatti car plant in Southern Russia, which will slash the number of vehicles produced by 44%.

The cuts are a warning sign for both the car industry and Russian manufacturing of the need to improve the quality of production or face losing out to foreign imports.

Russian cars have always been known for their low-quality and clunky design, but proved a great seller because they were cheap.

A basic model used to cost the equivalent of just £1,700. But over the past 20 months, costs have rocketed by 30% and prices almost doubled.

Consumers have voted with their wallets and demand for similarly priced second-hand cars from abroad has soared.

"The quality of Russian cars is lower, that's for sure," says Boris Novochesky, who has just bought a new Russian car at the Lada Favorit showroom in Moscow. "I know what I am getting, because I helped to build this."

Novochesky proceded to lift the boot and wiggled a strut, beaming, he proclaimed, "My friend Anotov installed these. He didn't even install the right bolts!"

A Western or Japanese car made seven years ago is better than an up-to-date Russian car of 2007, assert experts. As RIA Novosti was told by a manager on duty at the Audi special centre, at the present time, the seven-year car class includes the Audi A4 cars with 1.6 cubic centimeter engines. Such a car, brought to Russia from Germany, now costs not more than 9,000 dollars." "Such cars cannot be compared with the latest Russian Ladas of the 10th or 11th models - in the level of safety, or the quality of assembling, or the resources of units and sets. The used foreign cars cost by 1,500-2,000 dollars more, but even with a total of 100,000 kilometres logged such a car will give odds in quality to any Russian car which has just come off the conveyer. Add comfort to this, which is much better than in Russian cars," pointed out the manager. Unfortunately, our automobile industry is hopelessly lagging behind, and it will be hardly possible to catch up with the civilised production by artificial protectionist methods," he summed up.
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-23-2007, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mcbear

Thanks for three amazing articles that really put things in an interesting perspective. I had wondered if the Japanese workers were still in the same rhythm as they had been 15 years ago. It seems they are. I see this over at the Toyota plant when I am there, the attitude is so much different than at the Ford and Corvette plants that I have been to here in Kentucky – two Union and Toyota not but all make about the same money, including the same benefits packages.

While I know the quality of US products has improved over the past 10 years [the new Corvettes, GM Trucks and Caddies are as good as anything on the road] the companies are still playing catch-up to decisions that were made back in the 80s. Many of the US employees just seem to have fatigue at being blamed for things that really aren’t their fault or responsibility. The quality issues are, as much as anything else a result of cost reduction on parts, many bought from India or China in the past 15 years that are included in many cars. Mercedes also has had to deal with this very problem, one started in the mid 90s as they reduced the costs of their cars and executed vendor rationalization programs to dramatically cut parts cost.
I thought the three articles gave a good comparison, especially in view of the upcoming UAW negotiations.

Roch207 , didn't the Togliatti plant also produce Fiat?
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-23-2007, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by QBNCGAR
I didn't blame the demise of Ford or GM on Unions, I just highlighted the fact that the UAW has been so toxic that even when times were good for US manufacturers, they weren't as competitive as non-union companies.

The UAW (and other unions) make you hire five people that should take one qualified person to finish. That model only works if you can scale it out to almost infinity. Go into a slump, and you're screwed.

I don't blame the UAW for the slump, but they're certainly culpable for quite a bit of the trouble that has faced the US auto industry the past 15 - 20 years.
I think you have been watching too much Sopranos with your understanding of how unions work. Having lived on the inside [my father was a union rep for 40 years] I know that for a Union to work effectively, they have to work in conjunction with the company. That might be why there was no strikes for the entire 40 years he was the Union leader.

The Union labor model of the late 60s that the UAW and Steel Workers used, which were ofter over the top in efforts to get benefits, has not been used in Labor Unions in 25 years. Most current Unions like the CWA or IBEW that you might deal with are very streamlined and only deal with benefit structures and guaranteed COLA.

Interestingly, if it had not been for the Labor Unions that we had in the 50s-80s, folks like you and I would not have had nearly the standard of living, just watching servers blink, that we enjoy now.


Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-23-2007, 04:11 PM
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Also, the average American worker/labourer is a lazy and stupid, pride-less fuck who only waits for Friday or Saturday night so he can get drunk. Although the corporate fuck-tards are to be blamed, the worker and unions are more to blame IMO.
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