Union leaders are due to meet with Ford management today to protest against plans to axe 1,300 jobs at its Halewood factory as it moves to one-shift production from April. They will decide whether to ballot workers at Ford’s 20 UK-based sites over industrial action after the meeting.
The job cuts from the 4,500 staff at Halewood, Merseyside, follows a decision by Ford in Detroit to not produce the new Escort, due next year, at Halewood. The company has said it will not reconsider its decision, but will continue to produce the existing Escort at the plant up to 2000.
The news was followed by an announcement by Nissan that it will produce an Escort rival in the UK from 2000 and growing speculation that Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant could win a contract for the Corsa.
Union leaders from the AEEU, T&G and MSF fear the job cuts at Ford could be the precursor to complete closure of the plant.
Rival plants in Valencia, Spain and Saarlouis, Germany have supplier parks next door. Speake Garston Development Company, was still hopeful that plans for a supply park at Halewood could go ahead.
Ford has said that the plant could produce a new vehicle – probably a multi-purpose vehicle based on the new Escort’s platform – from 2000. This is if the workforce agreed to flexible working practices and increased productivity and if the Government stumps up aid under the Regional Selective Assistance scheme.
There are also worries over possible job cuts at Dagenham which makes the Fiesta and had an extended Christmas break, and Southampton which makes the Transit. Ford has 20 plants in the UK employing 30,000 people. The 1,100 jobs at Halewood’s transmission plant will not be affected by the layoffs.
Nissan said this week it is to invest £215m at its Sunderland plant to produce the successor to the Almeira saloon by 2000. This will create at least 800 jobs and 2,700 more among suppliers. Nissan said the plant had fought off challenges for the model from Japan as well as other European sites.