About 1,500 workers at Ford's factory in Russia, where the key product is the European-designed Focus, have gone on strike for a second time this year, demanding higher wages and shorter night shift hours.

Alexei Etmanov, who heads the union at the factory in Vesvolozhsk, just outside St. Petersburg, told the Associated Press (AP) the workers began striking at midnight Monday, seeking a wage increase of about 30% and a 6-1/2-hour night shift, instead of 7-1/2 hours.

The news agency noted that the workers held a warning strike on 7 November after three months of negotiations ended without agreement.

After a previous one-day strike in February, Ford agreed to raise wages by 14 to 20% and provide other improvements, the report added. Union officials at the time told the Associated Press the sides had agreed on the main sticking points, but that there would be further talks.

ZAO Ford Motor Company spokeswoman Yekaterina Kulinenko told AP most of the striking workers were barred from the factory, allowing only those working under an agreement to provide for operations to continue during the strike.

She was also quoted as saying management would not negotiate unless the strike ends.

The Vesvolozhsk plant produced about 60,000 cars last year, mainly the Focus, and plant officials hoped to increase production to 75,000 this year, the Associated Press noted.