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Friday, 12 May, 2000, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Ford letter to staff
The text of the letter handed to Ford workers at Dagenham:

Dear Colleague,

I feel it is important that I personally communicate to you the outcome of a meeting held in London today between senior management and hourly and salaried union representatives.

The meeting was specially convened in order that the company could advise your union representatives of the outcome of the European restructuring review.

The aim of the review was to develop a plan to make the European Ford business viable and return it to profitability.

As you know, there is serious vehicle overcapacity in the industry.

During the last 10 years Ford has been facing a steadily deteriorating business situation in Europe, and this trend is said to continue unless we take radical actions to turn the position around.

Even though significant actions have already been taken to reduce surplus Ford assembly capacity with the removal of Scorpio in Cologne, majoring restructuring in Genk, the imminent transfer of Halewood to Jaguar and the closure of the Plonsk plant in Poland, the Minsk plant in Belarus and the sale of the Azambuja plant in Portugal, there remains a significant overcapacity problem.

That is why our senior management team has for months been working on ways to address further the capacity imbalance facing us.

The announcement today is the outcome of a detailed study on the structure of the company, comparing what we need for the future with what we have today.

The review looked at all areas of Ford's business including product plants and timings, capacity utilisation and sourcing of vehicle and Powertrain.

The company said it intended to take the following actions in Dagenham vehicle operations:

  • Vehicle assembly and major body construction operations will cease by the first quarter of 2002.
  • The press shop will continue in production and will be modernised, with additional investment totalling 26 million US dollars.
  • It is planned that parts of the body plant will be equipped to reuse modern robotic automation to produce higher levels of assembly with components from the press shop. In addition the body plant will become a source for current Fiesta assemblies for the after market. These plants are still under development.
  • Wheel manufacturing operations will continue with an additional investment of 10 million US dollars to allow production of 14-inch, high strength, light weight, steel wheels.
  • Group tooling operations will continue and will be expanded to include development of tooling for other components e.g. doors, boots and decklids.

The company has announced that in 2001 a voluntary separation programme will be opened with the same enhanced terms as the present single shifting programme, but with an additional category of retirement.

Employees aged 45 to 49 at the age of separation will be able to take deferred special early retirement.

This means that they will be able to separate from the company with their separation pay and with an entitlement to receive pension payments from age 50.

This announcement has no impact on the single shifting actions or separation programme that was announced in February to take effect at shut down this year.

The company also announced a comprehensive package of investment and sourcing actions in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

The outcome of the review has a major effect on all of us. I plan to personally meet with you all over the next few weeks to explain in more detail the rationale for the company's decision.

It is our intention to do everything possible to achieve this restructuring on a voluntary basis, utilising the special unprecedented terms that have been announced together with redeployment and relocation actions.

During the course of next the year the company intends to develop a number of actions to assist employees impacted by the cessation of Fiesta production in Dagenham.

The company intends to do this jointly with the unions and government and proposes that a joint advisory board is established to oversee their development and implementation.

It is my personal intention to do my utmost to ensure that all employees are treated with respect and in a fair and equitable manner.

However difficult it may be over the coming months, we must continue to work together to ensure we meet our customer requirements.

Signed Jeff Body, Operations Manager, Dagenham Vehicle Operations.

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