Ford meeting raises fears over Southampton Transit factory future


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The Independent Online

Union leaders have been called to a meeting with motor giant Ford amid fears over the future of the firm's van factory in the UK.

The fate of the Transit van plant at Southampton is expected to be revealed tomorrow amid speculation that the firm is to announce its closure.

Transits have been built at the site since 1972, although the workforce has been halved in recent years to 500, with the plant operating on a single shift.

Ford today unveiled plans to close its factory in Genk, Belgium, with the loss of 4,300 jobs and said more details of its "transformation" plan for Europe will be given tomorrow.

Stephen Odell, chairman and chief executive of Ford of Europe, said: "The proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford's business in Europe and to return to profitable growth."

Mr Odell will meet personally with union officials tomorrow to give them the news.

Ford employs around 11,400 workers in the UK at plants including Dagenham in Essex, Halewood on Merseyside and Bridgend in South Wales.