Ford puts a computer in every paycheck

David Usborne
Saturday 05 February 2000 01:00
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Ford workers who bought themselves a personal computer for Christmas are kicking themselves. Sometime in the next few months they will be getting one free, complete with printer and high-speed internet access, courtesy of their suddenly munificent employers in Detroit.

Ford workers who bought themselves a personal computer for Christmas are kicking themselves. Sometime in the next few months they will be getting one free, complete with printer and high-speed internet access, courtesy of their suddenly munificent employers in Detroit.

The giveaway will apply to all of Ford's 350,000 workers worldwide, including those at its Jaguar and Volvo subsidiaries. Whether they are in Britain, Poland, India, or the United States, everyone on the payroll will receive a new Hewlett-Packard, with colour screen and speakers. They will be charged a fee for the internet connection but that will be about £3 a month, or even less.

Analysts predict that the offer will cost the company roughly $70m a year but Ford expects to get much in return, including good publicity and improved relations with its staff.

Ford also hopes to dispel the notion that as the company that pioneered assembly line production with the Model T, it is still the standard-bearer for the old, manufacturing-based, economy. Ford's chairman William Clay Ford Jnr, the grandson of the company's founder, Henry Ford, said the plan was based on the idea that "the internet will be the moving assembly line of 21st century".

Detroit also has it in mind that a computer in every employee's home will help to "wire" its workforce or make it more computer-savvy. "We want our employees to experience what's going on in technology," said Jac Nasser, Ford's chief executive.

Ford thinks it will also be able to speak better to its workers with the computers - every recipient will also be set up with two e-mail addresses. The company adamantly denies that it will make any attempt to monitor how each employee uses their machines, or how they surf the internet.

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