Russia's largest carmaker, AvtoVAZ, may halve its work week to 20 hours from next September until February, significantly reducing the wages of its employees, a company representative told business daily Vedomosti, citing AvtoVAZ president Boris Alyoshin.

The salary cut would affect all workers, including the company's top executives, the representative said, according to Prime-Tass.

By scaling back production without compensating employees, AvtoVAZ would effectively pay its workers only half of what they received before the economic crisis, the representative added.

Earlier this month, AvtoVAZ switched to one eight-hour work shift a day from two six-hour shifts. Each employee currently works two weeks per month and receives two-thirds of the usual pay for the other two weeks.

The move would allow AvtoVAZ to save about 8bn rubles, Vedomosti reported.

AvtoVAZ is trying to avoid mass layoffs, the representative said. The company has stopped hiring new employees and is dismissing only those employees who have reached retirement age, he added.

In the January-May period this year, AvtoVAZ sales fell 45% year on year to 151,019 units.

The most pessimistic forecast of the company's sales showed it was expected to sell just 360,000 vehicles this year, down from 622,000 last year.