The announcement, made before yesterday's one-point cut in interest rates, will affect 10,000 production-line workers and result in the loss of about 12,000 Escort, Orion and Fiesta models.
Production-line workers at Ford's Dagenham plant in Essex, which builds the Fiesta, will continue to work a three-day week next month. The Halewood plant on Merseyside, where the Escort/ Orion range is built, will go on a four-day week for the first three weeks of October and shut down altogether for the last week of the month.
Sales of K-registered cars in the key month of August failed to match manufacturers' expectations and sales for the year are not expected to surpass last year's depressed level of 1.59 million.
Ford said that a further 'worrying trend' was the decline in export sales from its UK plants. Dagenham exports 55 per cent of its output while a fifth of Halewood's production goes overseas.
A special meeeting is being held tomorrow between the company and its unions to discuss future capacity.