Russian Automotive Sector Faces Personnel Shortage

Representatives of independent unions say the shortage of automotive employees is the result of low wages and harsh working conditions.

Eugene Gerden, Correspondent

October 24, 2023

2 Min Read
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ST. PETERSBURG – The Russian automotive sector is trying to cope with an acute personnel shortage resulting from ongoing military mobilization and an overall negative business environment leading to losses of skilled workers.

According to the Transport of Russia business paper, the average annual number of workers employed in the Russian automotive industry in 2017-2021 ranged from 278,000 to 290,000 people, while related industries provided employment for 2.5 million to 2.9 million people in the same period.

Those figures have declined sharply since Russia launched military action against Ukraine in February 2022, prompting an exodus of most Western automakers from the country and the active recruiting of automotive personnel to participate in the conflict. In addition, the devaluation of the ruble and skyrocketing inflation caused significant declines in auto workers’ wages.

The resulting personnel shortage has forced domestic producers such as KamAZ and AvtoVAZ to recruit citizens of countries such as Uzbekistan and other former Soviet states, despite many of them having no experience working in automotive and in many cases unable to speak Russian.

Additionally, earlier this year a truck manufacturer, Ural Automotive, hired 100 people convicted of various crimes through the Federal Penitentiary Service. In 2022, 30 people convicted of non-serious crimes worked in Ural’s mechanical assembly shop and on the main assembly line of Ural. In mid-June, the Federal Penitentiary Service revealed similar plans by AvtoVAZ to hire prisoners.

AvtoVAZ, Russia’s flagship automaker, currently employs fewer than 30,000 people, which is significantly below pre-war figures.

Representatives of independent unions say the shortage of employees is caused by low wages and harsh working conditions.

Leonid Emshanov, chairman of Unity, the independent Russian auto workers’ union, told the Russian Gazeta.Ru news site that many AvtoVAZ employees work 12 hours every day, including on weekends. He also says many of the most skilled engineering personnel have left the automaker because their salaries have not been increased.

Industry analysts expect the current situation will continue to deteriorate as most foreign workers are not interested in employment at Russian automotive factories, instead seeking jobs outside the country.


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