Ford strike hits eight plants

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FORD'S white-collar staff yesterday mounted their first national strike, timed to coincide with the launch of the Mondeo, the company's new middle-range fleet car, writes Barrie Clement.

The 24-hour stoppage by the normally moderate supervisory staff, sales personnel and computer operators was in protest against the threat of compulsory redundancies.

Union leaders estimated yesterday that the company is only about 60 or 70 short of its target of 2,200 job losses

Factories in Dagenham, east London, Halewood on Merseyside, at Southampton, Bridgend and Swansea, Glamorgan, and Daventry, Northamptonshire, were hit by the stoppage and the Dunton plant in Essex was effectively closed, unions officials claimed.

'The stoppage has been a total success,' Jim Thomas, the chief Ford negotiator for the Manufacturing Science and Finance union, said. A Ford spokesman said that that only about 3,500 out of 8,000 salaried staff had taken part in the strike and that production carried on much as usual.

The 24-hour rail strike next Friday seemed set to go ahead last night after talks between BR and the RMT union ended in stalemate. The action by 68,000 staff is in protest at the threat of compulsory redundancies.