Wednesday March 26th, 2008
BUCHAREST (AFP)--Thousands of workers at Renault-owned (13190.FR) Romanian automaker Dacia remained on strike for a third day Wednesday, while a local court delayed a decision on the strike's legality, a judicial source said.
Workers at the factory in Pitesti, northwest of Bucharest, are demanding higher wages and accuse the French company of failing to take care of its employees.
The court in Pitesti was asked on Monday by the factory's owners to declare the strike illegal. Dacia claims only 49% of workers have walked off the job, while the unions say 79% have gone on strike.
Management also accuses the unions of calling the strike "before exploring all other stages of negotiation".
The court will rule on the status of the strike on April 2, which coincides with the first day of a NATO summit in Bucharest, after a plea from the unions for more time to find a lawyer and examine the case.
A morning meeting between union and company officials led nowhere, union official Ion Iordache told AFP.
"The management put forward a new proposal, namely a monthly rise of 130 lei ($55) from January, followed by a second rise of ROL26 a month from September," he said.
"We didn't accept this ridiculous offer and will continue with the strike."
Workers are demanding monthly raises of ROL550, as well as Christmas and Easter bonuses.
The management, for its part, offered a pay increase "which would guarantee every employee a gross raise of at least ROL250 a month".
Workers have argued that Dacia's financial performance allows management to meet their demands.
Dacia Chief Executive Francois Fourmont has reportedly warned that the unions' demands would threaten the factory's future, as Renault plans to open sites in Morocco, India and Russia in the coming years.
Union representatives for Renault workers in all countries where the company is present have expressed their support for Dacia employees.
Renault acquired a controlling stake in Dacia, formerly state-owned, 1999.