Ford job losses mark end of era

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

Car giant Ford has signalled the end of an era by announcing the closure of its last remaining UK vehicle production factory, and another site, with the loss of 1,400 jobs.

Union officials accused the US company of "betrayal" and said the job losses in Southampton and Dagenham in Essex were "devastating".

Production of Transit vans will end in Southampton next summer, with the loss of over 500 jobs, with the remainder being cut through the closure of a tooling plant in Dagenham.

Transit production will switch next year to Turkey, where Ford said costs were "significantly lower" than anywhere in Europe, even after delivery charges.

Stephen Odell, chairman and chief executive of Ford of Europe, said capacity at the plant in Kocaeli was much bigger than in Southampton, which produced around 28,000 vans last year, compared to 185,000 in Turkey.

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.

Ford said it hoped to create up to 200 new jobs at its engine factory in Bridgend, South Wales, and that 1,000 of the workers affected by the news would take voluntary redundancy, with others moving to other parts of the Ford business.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey 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.

Mr Odell said: "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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