Ford job-losses study rejects unions' claims

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The Independent Online

A confidential report prepared for the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has contradicted trade union claims that the ending of car assembly at Dagenham will lead to tens of thousands of job losses, putting the actual figure at just 8,000.

A confidential report prepared for the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has contradicted trade union claims that the ending of car assembly at Dagenham will lead to tens of thousands of job losses, putting the actual figure at just 8,000.

The report, prepared by Professor Garel Rhys at Cardiff University Business School for the new London Assembly, will undermine union attempts to keep car production going at the Essex plant. Union officials are still proposing to ballot members on strike action early next month but there are signs that the threat of industrial action is crumbling.

Professor Rhys estimates that there will be 4,000 direct job losses at Dagenham with the ending of Fiesta production in the first quarter of 2002, and a further 4,000 indirect job losses in the local area and among component suppliers. The relatively small number of indirect job losses arises from the fact that less than 50 per cent of the Fiesta's components are supplied by UK component manufacturers.

The report, due to be made public a week today, contradicts union claims that as many as 58,000 jobs will be put at risk by Ford's decision to end car assembly at Dagenham.

Ford has softened opposition to the scrapping of car production at Dagenham by unveiling plans to turn the plant onto a centre of excellence for diesel engine production with a $500m (£333m) investment. The expansion will create 300 jobs and increase output from the plant to almost one million engines a year. By the spring of 2002 Dagenham will be employing 5,000 compared with 7,300 before Ford began winding down car production, Ian McAllister, chairman of Ford in Britain, said.

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