Almost 1,400 workers at Ford's car assembly plant in Russia were reported to have gone on strike on Wednesday for at least one day to demand more money for working in hazardous conditions and other benefits.

Alexei Etmanov, head of the labour union at the plant in Vsevolozhsk, near St. Petersburg, told the Associated Press (AP) that the production line had stopped at midnight, and would continue beyond the 24-hour period if the company did not meet their demands.

Among workers' demands was that the company stop using temporary workers, guarantee jobs for workers injured at the plant and extra pay and other benefits for hazardous assignments, Etmanov told AP.

About 8% of the plant's work force are temporary workers; monthly wages at the plant average between 13,000 to 19,000 rubles ($495-$720), the report added.

"If we don't have any normal dialogue with the authorities, we'll continue the strike for the near future," Etmanov told the news agency.

Ford spokeswoman Ekaterina Kulinenko told the Associated Press that a court had ruled the strike was illegal, but workers called the strike anyway. She also was reported to have said that working conditions at the five-year-old plant were in line with local labour regulations and Ford's own safety standards.

"The factory management notified the union of its readiness to continue negotiations, but there has been no reaction," she told the Associated Press, adding that Ford would speed up the import of 1,700 Focus cars to make up for the possible loss in production.

"To be honest we had planned to order new Focuses, but of course with the strike threat we decided to order the cars as soon as possible," she told the news agency.

AP said the Vsevolozhsk plant produced about 60,000 cars last year, mainly the Focus, and plant officials hoped to increase production to 75,000 this year. The news agency cited a local TV station that said daily losses during the strike could reach $4m.