Union Meets Over Southampton Ford Closure

The Unite Union's held a meeting with senior workers at the Southampton Ford factory, to discuss how to fight the planned closure of the plant.

Following the meeting on Monday, October 19th, the union confirmed that it would be opposing the closure, and would formally write to Ford to inform the company. It's planning to hold further meetings with workers in the next ten days.

Last Thursday (Oct 25th) Ford announced it would close its Swaythling plant next summer with the loss of 500 jobs. Business and council leaders are also planning to talk about the impact on the city later this week.

Stephen Odell, chairman and chief executive of Ford of Europe, said:

''The proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford's business in Europe and to return to profitable growth.''

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said:

''Ford has betrayed its workforce and its loyal customer base. Unite is going to fight these closures. This announcement has been handled disgracefully.

''Only a few months ago Ford was promising staff a new transit model for Southampton in 2014. The planned closures will really hurt the local economies and the supply chain will be badly hit - up to 10,000 jobs could be at risk.

''The Transit has been the best-selling van in the UK for over a quarter of a century. It has a future in the UK if this government is prepared to fight for real jobs and persuade Ford to keep manufacturing vehicles in the UK.

''It's now time for Vince Cable (Business Secretary) to put his words into action and intervene for the sake of British manufacturing and skilled jobs.

''Unite will be meeting with our own UK union representatives and our European colleagues over the coming days to discuss the next steps.''

Alan Whitehead, Labour MP for Southampton Test, has slammed the decision by Ford to close their Southampton plant.

Dr Whitehead said:

"This decision-apparently reached without discussion or consultation-is a genuine and devastating blow to Southampton's economy. Once we include service staff and the impact on the wider supply chain, the total job losses could be double what were announced by Ford today. But this is not just about Southampton- it is part of a wider move by Ford to quit the UK as a manufacturer.

"The City Council's pledge to set up a taskforce to support local workers affected by the closure is a good start. But what we need above all is to know whether the Government has put forward any plan to Ford to help keep skilled manufacturing jobs in the UK.

"I'll be seeking an urgent debate in Parliament on this at the earliest opportunity."