April 2, 2020 / 1:35 PM / 3 months ago

Russian Railways mulls mass part-time working as demand drops

MOSCOW, April 2 (Reuters) - Russian Railways (RZhD), the country’s largest employer, is considering moving staff to part-time working as the coronavirus outbreak reduces rail traffic, according to a letter, seen by Reuters, written by the head of the company.

Oleg Belozerov’s letter to members of the board outlined a way the state rail monopoly could limit job losses for its 730,000 staff, 74,000 of whom are already working remotely, as Russian cities and regions introduce travel restrictions and lockdown measures.

Two industry sources familiar with the RZhD management confirmed the authenticity of the letter to Reuters. RZhD declined to comment.

“I propose looking at the mass use of part-time working regimes, including for members of the RZhD management, as an alternative to staff reductions and for preserving jobs,”the letter read.

The fall in cargo loading in the first quarter is expected to be more than 5%, and the fall in passenger traffic at nearly 40%, said Belozerov.

He said the reasons behind the proposal were the “unstable macroeconomic situation” and “the deteriorating price situation on world markets for Russian commodity exporters.”

Russia has reported 3,548 coronavirus cases and 30 deaths, prompting the government to impose a partial lockdown on many of its regions, with the fall in oil prices and the rouble harming Russian exporters. (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov, Additional reporting by Natalia Chumakova, Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Mark Potter)

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