Alexey Etmanov, chairman of the independent trade union of the Ford car factory in the Russian city of Vsevolozhsk, near St Petersburg, was attacked by unknown assailants on 8 November 2008. Etmanov had just parked his car outside his home after returning from his shift late at night when he was suddenly attacked by three men with brass knuckles. Etmanov managed to draw a stun gun and fire against the assailants.
Etmanov first thought that the attackers were mere street hooligans. It appears, however, that he was mistaken. The next day, the deputy chairman of the factory’s independent trade union, Vladimir Lesik received a call warning him that the nightly incident had nothing to do with a robbery. “You were warned lightly. If you continue to mess with us, you will die,” the anonymous caller said.
The combative trade union at Ford-Vsevolozhsk has proved to be a veritable nuisance to many — both employers and dealers. By establishing the first independent Inter-Regional Union of Auto Industry Workers (MPRA), the union has raised the ire of the management of car plants in Taganrog, Togliatti, and their puppet unions. Alexey Etmanov is co-chairman of MPRA.
This is not the first time that labour activists have been attacked in Russia. The St Petersburg-based Committee for Solidarity Action (KSD), as well as socialist and trade union organisations, including the Marxist Group Workers Action (MGRD), have begun a campaign of protest against the actions of the administration of the Taganrog Auto Plant (TagAZ). The attack on Etmanov may be related to this.
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