The article compares industrial relations in a single transnational automotive firm with production sites in both Slovakia and Russia, based on document analysis and fieldwork respectively. Empirical findings are examined in the light of a working class power approach (Wright, 2000; Silver, 2005; Schmalz and Dörre, 2014). In Slovakia, unions sustain non-conflict engagement with management while in Russia new unions make use of unconventional methods of protest to promote worker interests. Interdependences of transnational firms along the value chain, as well as differing national, political and economic determinants of former socialist countries, make a comparative appraisal of the current situation of workers and their trade unions challenging. In Slovakia associational and institutional power is well developed and influenced by the model of German work councils, but structural power is weakly exercised. In Russia structural working-class power remains strong, but the opportunities for transforming this into lasting associational, let alone institutional power, remain limited.