Ford staff reject pay strike

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Ford workers lifted the threat of strike action yesterday when they rejected industrial action over pay. Members of the two largest unions among the car company's 22,000-strong workforce voted against a walk-out over a two-year pay offer worth 9.25 per cent.

Transport and General Workers' Union members voted by 7,324 to 5,644 against a strike, while voting among Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union members was 3,669 to 2,109. Almost 9 out of 10 workers took part in the postal ballots. Ford had insisted the offer of a 4.75 per cent rise now and a further increase of 4.5 per cent in a year's time was final - and refused union demands for a reduction in the 39-hour working week.

Tony Woodley, chief negotiator for the TGWU, said Ford should take little comfort from the vote, which showed large numbers of workers were dissatisfied with the offer.

The Ford deal is usually seen as a benchmark for other negotiations in private industry.