Rough ride for Ford chief over Dagenham plans

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The chairman of Ford of Britain was heckled by members of his workforce yesterday as he sought to justify the company's decision to end car assembly at its Dagenham plant in east London.

The chairman of Ford of Britain was heckled by members of his workforce yesterday as he sought to justify the company's decision to end car assembly at its Dagenham plant in east London.

Ian McAllister told members of the Greater London Authority that Ford had decided to close the assembly line because of massive overcapacity in Europe. But there were shouts of "liar" from the gallery as he said that Dagenham was among the most inefficient plants in Europe.

Mr McAllister, who was summoned to the public hearing under the GLA's powers to investigate matters of London significance, said Ford would invest £2bn in the UK over the next five years. This would include creating a "global centre of excellence" in the design and manufacture of diesel engines at Dagenham, he said. Under Ford's closure plan, the assembly line will close in early 2002 with the loss of 1,900 jobs, which Ford has pledged to achieve though voluntary redundancy. The diesel engine investment will create 500 new jobs.

"Rather than investing in redundant capacity, which would continue to undermine the strength of the business, we are planning to invest in new technology where we need extra capacity," he said. "Diesel engine sales worldwide are booming."

Members of the GLA's Assembly repeatedly asked what estimates Ford had made of the impact of its decision on the supplier base, many of which were located in east London and Essex to be near to the plant.

He said the company had undertaken no major research, but added: "We don't think there will be a significant knock-on effect on component suppliers."

Comments