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Thursday, 5 October, 2000, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Racism 'continuing' at Ford
Ford production line
Many of Dagenham's shopfloor workers are from ethnic minorities
A year after Ford pledged to crack down on racism at its Dagenham plant, the BBC has obtained fresh allegations of bullying.

In September 1999, the company apologised to an Asian worker, Sukhjit Parmar, who had suffered years of racial abuse and threats from colleagues at the Essex plant

At an employment tribunal, Ford accepted full responsibility. The company's global president announced a package of measures to stamp out workplace racism.

But Mr Parmar, who no longer works for Ford, said his former colleagues have told him racist abuse is continuing.

'Violent threats'

It will be a further embarrassment for the company which has been previously criticised for allegedly racist recruitment policies and "turning a blind eye" to other incidents of shopfloor bullying.

Sukhjit Parmar, former Ford worker
Mr Parmar: "Working for Ford was a nightmare"
"I know another guy who was pushed against a fork lift truck and racially abused and nothing was done against the person who did it," Mr Parmar told BBC One's Breakfast News.

Witnesses have been threatened that "they will be taken out into the car park and have their legs broken" if they speak out, he said.

In Mr Parmar's own case, Ku Klux Klan graffiti was scrawled on his pay packet, he was threatened with physical assault and sent to work in an area known as the "punishment cell" - where he had no protective mask in a small, fume-filled spray booth.

Forty-five per cent of Dagenham's shopfloor workers are from ethnic minorities.

Ford: 'A lot has changed'

In October 1999, workers staged a walkout over allegations that another Asian worker had been pushed by a white foreman, almost falling into production machinery.

Ford's global president, Jac Nasser, took personal control of the growing crisis, flying in from Detroit to sign a comprehensive agreement with the unions to stamp out discrimination and harassment.

And one year on, the company denies there has been little improvement.

"I think a lot has changed in Ford in the last 12 months since the unfortunate incident with Mr Parmar," a company spokesman said.

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"We have had a lot of actions that I would describe as immediate, on the ground actions that are medium term in nature and other actions that are longer term."

Four years ago, Ford apologised and paid compensation to four black workers after white faces were imposed on their photographs in a sales brochure.

The following year, the company had to pay out more than 70,000 compensation to seven Asian and Afro-Caribbean workers at Dagenham who were turned down for jobs in the truck fleet where pay is roughly double the shopfloor average but where fewer than 2% were from ethnic minorities.

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See also:

24 Aug 00 | UK
Warning to Ford over racism
24 Aug 00 | UK
Ford: The road to change
22 Apr 00 | Business
Ford 'to end production' at Dagenham
18 Feb 00 | Business
Ford slashes 1,500 UK jobs
05 Oct 99 | The Company File
Ford workers walkout
23 Sep 99 | The Company File
Ford apologises to race victim
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