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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 March 2007, 23:21 GMT
Global car industry: Jim Hand
Jim Hand
Name: Jim Hand
Age: 52
Lives: Indiana, US
Works: Technician

I'm facing an uncertain future as our plant is scheduled to cease all operations in 18 months or less.

After 20 years as a maintenance technician I feel somewhat cheated.

Currently about 35 - 40% of the work force is laid off with little chance of returning.

Things have changed so much. We used to be the crown jewels. Ford management would take visitors around our plant.

We used to be very positive about the future. No longer.

In 1997 Ford spun off it's auto component suppliers into a company called Visteon LLC.

The idea was that Ford could then choose who it bought components off and we could also sell to different companies.

Image of a strike
Emotions ran high during a 2004 strike
At first I was optimistic about changes, but things became particularly really bad from 2004. Visteon Corporate told our plant that they were taking out fuel products away from our plant.

The unions called a strike. Unfortunately, things turned violent and ugly very quickly.

The company shipped in security fences and replacement workers.

Many young people from the surrounding area got involved. They brought cars to the picketing line and set them on fire. We were all across the local papers.

It took three weeks to settle the strike and the spectre of what happened remained for a long time.

It was a real clash of cultures. The replacement workers being brought in were young, this was their first 'real' job and they had nothing to compare it to. Basically they could accept worse conditions.

There are still people that think globalisation and competition are just a con
Maybe the older workers were unaware that the nature of manufacturing had changed.

There are still people that think globalisation and competition are just a con, an excuse for closing down factories.

The town of Bedford in Southern Indiana has just 15,000 people. The plant used to employ some 1,200 workers. So obviously these changes have hit us in a big way.

I have a degree in electronics, and a degree in business administration. But I'm 52 and am worried about going back into the job market at my age with my health less than perfect.

My friends and family in the town are also angry and bitter about this. They don't like to think about what is going to happen.

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