Ford strike over contract-out plan

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The Independent Online
ANOTHER 1,300 Ford jobs are at risk in Britain and 2,000 in Germany as part of plans to bring in outside contractors, according to an internal memorandum.

News that Ford planned to call for tenders for work carried out by the company's 'general services' division led to an unofficial 24-hour stoppage yesterday by 500 workers at the Dagenham plant in Essex, which would be hardest hit by redundancies.

A spokesman said the paper was only a 'background analysis' ahead of a full study on contracting out work, but union officials believe the decision to hive off the work has already been made.

The document says the plans should be presented to workers in a similar way to the decision to switch seat manufacture to contractors.

One union official said the public relations strategy in that case was to present the plans as a tentative suggestion, despite the fact that the plan was 'set in concrete'. Seat manufacture is now done by an outside firm.

Yesterday's walk-out at Dagenham disrupted the production of Fiestas and a strike by boiler workers planned for today is likely to hit output for a second day.

The internal document, marked confidential, gives details of the restructuring plan to be completed by the end of the year and the likely response of workers. The main area affected is general services, which arranges the transport of components within Dagenham and between other Ford factories.

Drivers, maintenance workers, electrical engineers, boiler workers, industrial equipment repair staff, packers and office staff would all be hit.

In a section headed Industrial relations: Summary of risks, the document predicts that a dispute in the truck fleet department at Dagenham would lead to the closure of all Ford's European manufacturing plants within three days. A dispute could last two weeks.

Unions reacted angrily to the document and pledged to tackle senior Ford managers over its contents when the two sides meet for talks in London next week.