Ford plan to cut 1,400 jobs slammed

Ealing Times: Workers leave the Ford Transit Assembly Plant in Southampton, after being told that the site will close site with the loss of up to 1,500 jobs Workers leave the Ford Transit Assembly Plant in Southampton, after being told that the site will close site with the loss of up to 1,500 jobs

Car giant Ford has been attacked by unions after announcing plans to close its Transit van factory and another UK site with the loss of around 1,400 jobs.

The grim news was given to union chiefs and workers at meetings with the company and was described as "devastating" by officials.

The Transit van plant in Southampton will close next summer, with the loss of more than 500 jobs, while a stamping and tooling site in Dagenham, Essex, will shut at the same time.

Ford said it hoped to achieve the reductions through voluntary redundancies, enhanced employee separation and redeployment to other sites.

It is understood that workers at the Dagenham site staged a walkout after being told the news, although they were told to go home by the company. Workers in Southampton were also sent home for the day.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey accused Ford of betraying its workforce and said the announcement had been handled "disgracefully". He said: "Only a few months ago Ford was promising staff a new Transit model for Southampton in 2014. The planned closures will really hurt the local economies and the supply chain will be badly hit - up to 10,000 jobs could be at risk."

Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB union, said: "This is devastating news for the workers in Southampton and Dagenham and is very bad news for UK manufacturing. Ford's track record in Britain is one of broken promises and factory closures. There will be a feeling of shock and anger, and Ford's commitment on investment will cut little ice."

Ford employs around 11,400 workers in the UK at plants including Dagenham, Halewood on Merseyside and Bridgend in South Wales. Ford said its UK operations will remain a centre of excellence for powertrain development and production, including plans to add a new generation two-litre diesel engine in Dagenham to power Ford vehicles from 2016.

The engine will be developed at the firm's technical centre in Dunton, Essex, while additional investment is also expected at the Bridgend plant.

Stephen Odell, chairman and chief executive of Ford of Europe, said: "We have to act quickly and decisively to address the collapse in consumer demand in Europe today and position Ford for profitable growth tomorrow. We are reaffirming our commitment to the UK with a major investment in powertrain and engineering and one which will reinforce the UK's central role in Ford's global powertrain strategy."

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