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Latest update : 2009-09-24

Russia's biggest carmaker, Avtovaz, announced on Thursday that it would cut up to 27,600 jobs, or nearly a third of its workforce, due to a slump in sales. Avtovaz, which makes the Lada car, is part-owned by France's Renault.

AFP - Russian car giant Avtovaz said Thursday it would slash up to 27,600 jobs as it struggles with sliding sales due to the impact of the global economic slump.

"Today, 102,000 people work at Avtovaz. Such a number cannot guarantee effective and profitable production, therefore we have agreed to reduce the personnel by 27,600 people," the carmaker said in a statement.

The intended cuts represent nearly one third of the workforce at the company, which is 25 percent owned by France's Renault.

Earlier, the maker of the iconic Lada car was reported to be considering cuts of as many as 36,000 employees but it said it had been able "to significantly lower the initial figure" for layoffs.

"In all, no more than 27,600 employees will be laid off," it said, adding that this figure included cuts of 5,000 white-collar jobs announced last week.

Russia had the fastest growing car market in Europe up until last year but was then plunged into crisis by the slump in domestic demand.

With huge amounts of unsold stock, Avtovaz has imposed month-long production halts after the crisis hit its market share which was already under pressure from competition from imports.

The car giant, which was set up with Italy's Fiat in the Soviet era, is the key employer in Tolyatti, a city of 700,000 on the Volga River in the southern Samara region that was named after an Italian Communist leader.

Detailing the layoffs, Avtovaz said 13,000 employees would retire with pensions while another 5,500 would be forced to take early retirement.

Another 9,100 employees would be discharged, 6,000 of whom would have the option to work at Avtovaz again in 2012.

Date created : 2009-09-24