Ford workers across the country could down tools if any of the firm’s UK sites are earmarked for closure or compulsory redundancies.
In a joint statement Unite and GMB called on Ford to come clean over the future of its UK operations today (12 April), warning that their members at all five of the car giant’s UK sites were ‘ballot ready’.
In a statement to workers at Bridgend, Dagenham, Daventry, Dunton and Halewood, the Ford national joint negotiating committee said ‘if any location is faced with compulsory redundancies, or plant closure, then each location would be balloted for industrial action’.
The committee, which comprises Unite and GMB representatives, expressed frustration at the company’s lack of clarity over its future ‘footprint’.
It follows a drive by the carmaker to find £2bn in ‘savings’ and a rumoured cut of 10,000 jobs from its European operations amid recent warnings over Brexit.
With the UK being Ford’s biggest market in Europe, accounting for 40 per cent of sales, the unions also demanded that where possible all Ford vehicles sold in the UK should be powered by propulsion systems built in Dagenham or Bridgend, and transmissions made in Halewood Merseyside.
Over the years Ford has gone from employing 100,000 workers at 27 plants in the UK, down to 9,000 at 5 locations which make engines and gearboxes, in addition to design and development.
Commenting jointly Unite national officer Des Quinn and Justin Bowden of the GMB said, “Workers across all of Ford’s UK sites have had to endure the drip, drip of uncertainty, amid cost cutting, proposed joint ventures and statements around the transition to electric.
“Ford’s UK workforce stands ready to meet the challenges currently facing the car industry and has the expertise to lead the way in the transition to electric and alternatively powered vehicles.
“Ford must repay that faith and that of its loyal UK customers by giving workers clarity over their futures and investing in the UK.”
The crisis at Ford, and across the automotive industry, has been exacerbated by Theresa May’s shambolic handling of the Brexit process, the government’s demonisation of diesel and weakening global car sales.
UK car workers are now battling for their future amid a slew of job loss announcements in the UK automotive sector and Honda’s announcement that it plans to close its Swindon factory.
Last month, Unite warned of a deepening jobs crisis in UK manufacturing after jobs figures showed 24,000 jobs had been in lost in the sector in the six months from June to December 2018.
“The jobs crisis in manufacturing will only deepen further as the impact of recent announcements such as Honda, Jaguar Land Rover and Ford feed through,” said Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner.
“The government needs to wake up and shake off its complacency by delivering on its fine words about its industrial strategy with practical support and action for UK manufacturing and the car industry.”
He added, “This must mean throwing its full weight behind the fight to persuade Honda to stay in the UK, in addition to properly supporting the transition to electric and alternative powered vehicles.
“Government must also support wider manufacturing by buying UK steel for infrastructure projects and utilising the talents of UK manufacturing communities to build major assets such as the Royal Navy’s solid support vessels here in the UK.”