Ford to close Transit and stamping plants with 1400 job losses
Ford has confirmed news the UK auto manufacturing industry was fearing by announcing the closure of its Transit van production plant in Southampton.
And the US auto giant has added further pain by stating it will also close a much larger stamping and tooling plant at its site in Dagenham, Essex.
According to Ford 1,400 posts – 500 at Southampton and 800 at Dagenham – will be affected by the plan but unions at the two plants believe the number could exceed 2,000.
The announcement comes a day after Ford revealed it intends to close its factory in Genk, Belgium, with the loss of 4,300 posts.
Overcapacity in the European auto market is being blamed for the moves – while the UK car market is on the up in the rest of Europe sales are sliding, down 20 per cent since 2007.
Both the Dagenham stamping facility and the Transit plant in Southampton will close next summer, with Transit production being centred at the plant in Kocaeli, Turkey.
Ford does intend to add a new low-CO2 diesel engine line at its Dagenham plant, and add some investment to its Bridgend engine plant in South Wales.
The closure of Southampton will see the end of an era of Ford vehicle manufacturing in the UK that has stretched over 101 years. The plant at Swaything in the city opened in 1972 and has made around 2.2 million Transits.
Workers at Southampton have accused Ford of betraying them. In 2009 unions accepted redundancies at the plant which halved the workforce, having been told that the losses were necessary to protect the future of the Southampton facility.
They are vowing to fight the latest redundancies, claiming that in recent months Ford was promising its workers that a new Transit model would be built at Southampton from 2014.
“Ford’s track record in Britain is one of broken promises and factory closures,” one Union source says.
UK Government Business Secretary Danny Alexander describes the planned closures as “disappointing,” but emphasises that they should not be seen as an indicator as to the health of the UK auto manufacturing industry.
Speaking on BBC Radio FiveLive, Mr Alexander points to recent major investments in the UK from brands such as Jaguar Land/Rover, Nissan and Toyota, and adds that for the first time in many years Britain is now a net exporter of vehicles.
Ford to close Belgian plant – click here
Words by: Andrew Charman