There is power in a union

On behalf of MSF, unions representing workers at Ford met the company today to formally respond to its closure plan for the Dagenham plant. Ford intends to cease car production at the East London plant cutting 2000 jobs on top of the 1,800 to go by September this year.

Unions warned Ford management that if they carry out their plan to close the plant they will be in breach of an agreement reached in 1997 over future investment. Unless Ford reverses its decision unions will be consulting their members over industrial action.

MSF, the union for skilled and professional people, has called on Ford management to build an alternative vehicle in Dagenham. The Ford family includes Volvo, Mazda and Aston Martin and the union says that new models from any of these could easily be built in British plants.

MSF General Secretary Roger Lyons said: ‘We will not surrender the jobs of our members at Ford Dagenham. ‘We have an agreement with Ford from 1997 guaranteeing long term car production in Dagenham. Ford have broken this agreement and if they do not reverse their decision then conflict is unavoidable. ‘Ford could easily build another model in Dagenham and that’s what we are fighting for.’

The union says that while Ford of Europe recorded a loss of GBP600 million last year, over the last two years, Ford UK made a profit of GBP410 million. Ford workers in Britain cost on average GBP10.72 per hour whilst their German counterparts cost GBP16.54. 28% of Ford’s European sales are made in the UK which is more than in Germany and Spain put together. They also say that the relatively low cost of redundancies in Britain is behind Ford’s decision to cut jobs in Dagenham.

Closing down car production will have a devastating effect on Ford UK. 3,800 jobs will go in Dagenham with another 2-3000 possible losses at Ford parts manufacturers in Croydon, Enfield, Leamington and Swansea as a result of the loss of the Fiesta work. MSF fears Ford’s long-term objective could be to pull out of the UK altogether.