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Bill Morris from the TGWU
"I am concerned because of the uncertainty"
 real 28k

Thursday, 3 February, 2000, 18:43 GMT
Ford to cut costs in Europe

Ford workers There are fears that jobs could be at risk

Ford is set to shake up its European business amid reports of a radical cost-cutting programme.

It is unclear when the cost-cutting programme will be launched.

Ford had been widely expected to make an announcement on its European business on Thursday.

Officials now say that no announcement is scheduled.

European profits down

Reports had suggested that the factory in Dagenham in Essex could bear the brunt of big job losses, with production of the Ford Fiesta possibly switching to Germany.

Profits from the carmaker's European division fell sharply last year from almost 200m to 29m, and reports said Ford had given details of how it planned to turn that around.

In an interview reported in the Financial Times, Ford Europe's chairman Nick Scheele is quoted as saying: "We are seeking tough cost reductions across Europe ..... We have agreed our plan and more importantly the timetable".

However, he did not give details about where the plant closures would be.

But there are real concerns that Britain will bear the brunt of the cutbacks, because of the pound's rise against the euro.

Industrial action

Also, all of Ford's UK operations are facing imminent strike action by white-collar workers over pay and conditions.

They want the same pay settlement as that won by production line staff last year - 15% over three years and a cut in the working week. Ford has offered them 11% over three years.

Talks will be held with the company in London on Monday to try to resolve the dispute and a separate row over plans to merge the staff and hourly paid workers' pension funds.

Investment commitment

Tony Woodley, chief Ford negotiator for the Transport and General Workers Union, said there was an agreement with Ford that there would be further investment in Dagenham to build the new Fiesta model.

"We expect that agreement to be honoured," he said.

"But there is no doubting the fact that serious investment at Dagenham, both in bricks and mortar and processing - and the company will say in workers' attitudes - needs to take place if Dagenham is to compete successfully on the world stage."

Tranport & General Workers Union chief Bill Morris, said he was concerned about Ford's plans.

"I am concerned because of the uncertainty," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He said the unions would be seeking clarification from the company.

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See also:
03 Feb 00 |  Business
Ford's European troubles
15 Nov 99 |  The Company File
Ford's 'landmark' pay deal
19 Jan 00 |  Business
Ford staff in strike vote
05 Oct 99 |  The Company File
Ford workers walkout
14 Nov 99 |  The Company File
Ford faces pricing probe

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