Page last updated at 09:36 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Support for staff facing job cuts

Ford Transits
Ford has blamed a fall in commercial van sales for the job losses

A support scheme for workers who will be losing their jobs at the Ford factory in Southampton has been launched by the firm.

Ford bosses announced hundreds of job losses at the Transit plant in Swaythling earlier this year.

The new scheme will give employees the chance to find out more about training opportunities and the support and benefits available to them.

It was launched on Friday by Labour MP for Southampton Itchen, John Denham.

In February, the car giant said it was cutting up to 850 jobs across its UK operations by May.

Voluntary redundancies

Between 400 and 500 of the posts are to go at the Transit plant in Southampton. The firm said it hoped the losses would be met through voluntary redundancies.

Bosses will also renegotiate a recent pay deal struck at the south coast site and have postponed a decision on the future Transit production at the plant.

However, the Unite union described plans to renegotiate the deal struck as a "betrayal" and warned that cutting pay to meet redundancy payments could lead to strike action.

The GMB union has also accused Ford of "going back on its agreement" over a 5.25% pay increase agreed late last year.

A further 350 job losses have been announced across Ford's remaining UK sites in Basildon, Brentwood and Dunton in Essex, Daventry in Northamptonshire, Halewood on Merseyside and Bridgend in south Wales.

The total layoffs represent nearly 7% of Ford's UK workforce of 12,900 - with almost half of the Southampton factory's staff of 1,100 affected.

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