What recovery? Ford to axe 1,400 jobs at two UK plants

 

Ford workers in Southampton and Dagenham were left “shocked and angry” today after the US carmaker axed 1,400 jobs in the UK, dealing a major blow to the economy just hours after it officially emerged from recession.

With one in ten of Ford's British staff facing redundancy, business secretary Vince Cable pledged to intervene to help them find new jobs after what he called “very disappointing” news.

“It's a disappointment and a shock,” said Simon Spicer, a 40-year old worker at the Southampton plant, which made Spitfire aircraft in the Second World War and which is due to close with the loss of 530 jobs.

“My dad worked here in 1972 for 25 years. I've worked here for 25 years, I'm not sure what I'll do,” he added.

“It is the worst news we've heard since we've worked here,” added another, visably shell-shocked, worker standing outside the Southampton plant.

“It's not just us, it's about future generations. All the big companies, they've all gone now really. The population's getting bigger, where are all the jobs in Southampton?” he added.

In addition to Southampton, there will be about 750 job cuts in Dagenham, as Ford closes the stamping and tooling facility at the plant, although the rest of that operation will stay open.

Ford's other two UK sites, in Halewood on Merseyside and Bridgend in South Wales, are unaffected by the cuts, which number about 1,400 when support staff are included. The company said it hoped to reduce the net number of job losses to 1,100 by relocating 300 staff.

Southampton and Dagenham both loom large in the British consciousness, albeit for quite different reasons. Dagenham is the scene of the Ford seat covering sewing machinists strike of 1968, immortalised in the film Made in Dagenham, while Southampton makes the Ford Transit beloved of 'white van man'.

The Swaythling site, on the outskirts of Southampton, has built more than 6m Ford Transit vans in the past 45 years, work which will now move to Turkey.

“This is devastating news for the workforce in Southampton and Dagenham. There is a feeling of shock and anger,” said Justin Bowden, the Unite union's national officer.

Caroline Nokes, the conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton, added that the closure in her constituency was a “bitter blow”.

The closure of the UK plants is part of a broader overhaul of Ford's European operation, which is set to lose more than $1.5bn (£930m) this year as the Eurozone crisis pushes demand for cars across the continent to a near 20-year low. Demand in Europe is now about a fifth lower than it was before the financial crisis hit in 2007 and the reduced level is expected to persist for at least the next few years.

On Wednesday, Ford announced it would shut its “underutilised” Genk plant in Belgium by 2014, with the loss of 4,300 jobs, again as part of its European reorganisation.

Shop stewards representing Ford's UK staff learned of the cuts when they were summoned to a meeting with Ford's European head, Stephen Odell, in a meeting at the company's technical centre in Basildon at 10am this morning.

Alan Mulally said he recognised “the impact our actions will have on many employees and their families” but added that the company was dealing with a “crisis” in Europe.

The blow to Ford's UK staff was all the heavier today, coming hard on the heels of new economic data which showed that the economy climbed by 1.0 per cent in the three months to the end of September. This is the strongest growth since the same period in 2007 and takes Britain out of its double-dip recession.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links