BUCHAREST (Thomson Financial) - Workers at Renault SA's low-cost Dacia unit's plant in Pitesti, Romania, started an indefinite strike this morning to demand rises in wages and bonuses.
Union leader Nicolae Pavelescu said: 'The strike was started this morning and more than 80 pct of workers are taking part', cited by news agency Newsin.
The unions are demanding a fixed sum of 550 lei (about 148 eur) in two payments, and an increase in Christmas and Easter bonuses.
Another union leader, Ion Iordache, said the average gross salary at Dacia is 1,064 lei (about 285 eur), but 'for 2,500 employees without seniority, it does not exceed 780 lei gross'.
An official at the factory, Liviu Ion, said the bonus increases demanded by the workers were 'unacceptable', and the management was proposing a rise of 144 lei in various bonuses, which would lead to a rise of 12 pct in the average gross salary and an 18 pct rise in the minimum salary.
While the employees say their demands are justified by the profits the factory has made over recent years, Ion said that the profits of 302 mln eur between 2005-2007, have still not made up for the losses of 363 mln eur incurred between 2000-2004.
Ion also said that Renault (other-otc: RNSDY.PK - news - people ) has invested 800 mln eur in the factory since taking over Dacia in 1999 and would continue to invest about 200 mln eur per year in it.
He said management was still 'open to negotiations' with the unions, but that no date has been set to resume the talks.
Almost 4,000 Dacia workers held a warning strike lasting two hours on March 14, after their negotiations with management broke down.
Dacia, Romania's biggest carmaker, had record sales in 2007 of 230,000 vehicles sold in Romania and abroad, up 17.4 pct from the previous year.