Dagenham jobs could be under threat as Ford rethinks European production

Speculation is mounting that Ford’s Dagenham plant, which employs around 4,000 people, will be the next victim of the over-capacity problems facing the European car industry.

Reports in the national press have claimed that Ford executives are involved in secret talks and are expected to move production of the Fiesta to the firm’s other Fiesta plant in Cologne.

Sir Ken Jackson, general-secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, said Ford must make an announcement quickly to ease staff fears.

`The speculation is very unsettling to the workforce,’ he said. `They have been watching events at Rover on television and then they are hit with this. I’m fed up with announcements being made through the media. Ford needs to spell things out.’

Jackson has contacted the office of Jac Nasser, Ford’s chief executive, to clarify the situation, claiming that shutting the plant would be extremely damaging for the east London area.

Ford recently announced a cut in production from two to single-shift working from August, at the cost of 1,350 jobs. The plant also lost its lead-plant status for production of the Ford Fiesta.

The decision was blamed on poor financial performance and over-capacity. A spokesman for Ford said Dagenham was simply too large to continue to be the lead plant for the Fiesta, and the site at Cologne was better suited to meeting the required capacity levels.

He denied a decision about Dagenham had already been made, but said talks on the future of Ford of Europe would continue, with an announcement not expected until May.

Meanwhile, German newspaper Welt am Sonntag has reported that Ford is interested in buying BMW, following the announcement that the German car maker is to sell Rover.