Ford steward blames Germans on job threat

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FORD'S chief shop steward in Britain yesterday blamed the company's German directors for the threat of compulsory redundancies hanging over British car plants, writes Barrie Clement.

Warning Ford that the 38,000 workers would take industrial action if there were sackings, Andy Richards, chairman of Ford of Britain's convenors' committee, said the possible slimdown of engine capacity in particular was a result of the influence of senior German executives.

Referring to the main engine plant in Bridgend, south Wales, Mr Richards said the attack had been 'orchestrated' by the German members of the company's European board. The Germans saw Bridgend's pre-eminent position as a 'threat to their nationalistic objectives', he said. About 80 per cent of Bridgend engines are sent to Ford's European plants.

Mr Richards, who is also convenor at the south Wales factory, said unions would not discuss the possibility of compulsory redundancies raised by management last week. He added: 'Only three weeks ago the company was telling us how efficient we were.'

To avoid cutbacks, the company has asked unions to defer a 5 per cent wage rise due in November until May and accept a reduction in 'lay-off' pay from 100 per cent of basic rates to 60 per cent.

A spokesman for Ford said the cuts were prompted by the market situation in Britain. Capacity was geared to the levels of sales in 1989 which had since declined by a third. 'We are simply attempting to adjust our output to the market,' he said.