May 21 2013 Latest news:
John Phillips, Senior Reporter
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Ford workers are to meet a top executive at Dagenham tomorrow amid rumours a UK plant could shut as part of wide-ranging restructuring plans.
Ford of Europe boss Stephen Odell will address union representatives at the factory in Chequers Lane, Dagenham, as fears grow the Southampton plant could close with the loss of 500 jobs.
The news came after the US car giant unveiled plans to shut a 4,300-staff plant in Gent, Belgium, in a bid to return the business to profitability.
Unite rep Mark Stephens said staff were worried but stressed the 4,000-staff factory in Dagenham could land a new engine contract, which could boost production and create new jobs.
Mr Stephens, 49, said: “We’re in the dark. They are saying nothing at the moment. The company’s silence is deafening.
“We’re waiting a decision on the new panther engine. We tend to take a pessimistic view. We’ve been hit so many times in the UK.
“Without the new panther engine, there isn’t much need for the engine plant in Dagenham.
“Today Mr Odell is tied up with the Belgium Prime Minister. That’s why we’re worried. Clearly, this is a big announcement.
“We’ve heard rumours they will close Southampton. They’re not denying it.”
Ford declined to comment on tomorrow’s meeting or the new panther engine contract.
Ford of Europe chief exectutive Stephen Odell 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.