Ford staff strike in bonuses dispute

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The Independent Online
PRODUCTION AT Ford's biggest British plant was hit yesterday when two groups of workers walked out and the company began three days of intensive negotiation over national pay rates.

Up to 500 toolmakers at the plant in Dagenham, Essex and a smaller works in north London staged an official strike over bonuses, while workers in the paint shop staged a wildcat stoppage in support of a shop steward suspended for allegedly hitting a foreman.

The walkout comes after a series of strikes over race relations at the plant, but Ford insisted there was no racial element to the altercation.

The Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union said toolmakers at Dagenham had staged official action because they were paid less than their counterparts at other Ford plants. A company spokesman said some toolmakers were paid a flexibility allowance.

Meanwhile, leaders of the company's 28,000 workers met managers in London yesterday to thrash out a deal on pay and working hours. The agreement at Ford, which covers 16 sites, comes at the beginning of the annual pay round and tends to influence the rest of British manufacturing industry. Union officials have rejected an opening offer of a 2 per cent rise.

t Thousands of workers staged a walkout from the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast yesterday in protest at the handling of a financial crisis that threatens to close the yard.