Union accuses Ford of using scare tactics over pay deal

Management at Ford Motor Company is trying to frighten professional staff into dropping their threat of industrial action, the manufacturing union MSF has claimed.

The union’s general secretary, Roger Lyons, said rumours about possible plant closures had angered members: `They panicked when they heard these rumours. It annoyed them considerably. They are trying to frighten our people into losing their resolve.’

Ford declined to comment on the allegations.

Plant closure rumours filled the media last week, after unnamed managers were quoted in the Financial Times as expressing fears over the future of the Dagenham plant in Essex. An announcement was expected on Friday, at which point the company dampened expectation of cuts across Europe.

The union suspects Ford deliberately fed reports to the media to scare staff into submission. MSF has more than 2,000 members involved in the dispute with Ford.

Professional staff, including engineers, IT and clerical staff, are demanding a pay settlement equivalent to that agreed by hourly paid employees. They also oppose Ford’s demand to merge the professional staff pension with the hourly paid employees pension fund.

Unions said last week that their members had voted to take strike action. MSF national secretary Terry Pye added: `Ford has made a big mistake thinking our members were not serious about taking industrial action over pay and their pension fund.

`They are traditionally moderate but the company treated them unfairly and they have shown their anger. Now Ford must think again.’

The plant at Dagenham has been plagued in the past year by industrial action and allegations of racial harassment, which prompted a visit by chief executive Jac Nasser.

* Ford has plans to offer all its US employees the chance to have a PC installed in their home for a nominal fee. Employees who take up the offer will also be given free internet access and a colour printer. The three-year scheme is aimed at helping staff develop IT skills. The offer will be rolled out worldwide within 12 months.

John Robinson writes for Personnel Today