Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dacia says strikes may push production to Morocco

BUCHAREST, April 10

(Reuters) - Romanian carmaker Dacia, owned by France's Renault, threatened on Wednesday to shift production to cheaper sites in Morocco if a pay conflict escalates.

Workers at Dacia's Mioveni assembly line downed tools for two days last month in pursuit of a 40 percent pay increase, which the company has responded to with a 9 percent offer.

"If this protest will not end up reasonably and in a mutually beneficial manner and if employees will continue with unrealistic demands, there's a greater probability to transfer an important part of production to Morocco," Automobile Dacia Vice-President Constantin Stroe told Reuters.

Last month's strike caused a 20 million euro ($26.1 million) loss to the carmaker, which is Romania's largest exporter, accounting for roughly 3 percent of gross domestic product.

Dacia exports 90 percent of its output and sold about 360,000 cars worldwide last year, up 4.8 percent from 2011.

The average monthly pretax wage at Dacia was 3,965 lei ($1,200) last year compared with a national average of 2,100 lei.

"The advantage of the plants in Morocco is that an employee earns only 54 percent of a Romanian employee's salary," Stroe said.

Trade unions are set to unveil further action plans on Thursday. ($1 = 0.7658 euros) ($1 = 3.3677 Romanian lei) (Reporting by Ioana Patran; Editing by Radu Marinas and David Holmes)

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