Page last updated at 22:52 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 23:52 UK

What happens when labour moves abroad?

By Matt Treacy and Michael Stoddard
BBC News Online

Ford Transit vans
Ford used to employ 1,100 workers in Southampton

When more than 1,000 people on the south coast lost their jobs last year it was amid angry scenes when it emerged much of the work was moving abroad.

Wind energy firm Vestas made 593 people redundant when it closed its Isle of Wight factory and its operation in Southampton.

Meanwhile Ford axed about 500 jobs - half of its workforce - when it scaled back its Transit van production at its factory in Southampton.

To get the other side of the story, BBC Radio Solent took two former Ford and Vestas workers to visit the sites where their jobs have gone.

In the second part of BBC South's look at life after redundancy, retired Ford employee Bill Chandler visited the Transit factory in the Turkish town of Kocaeli.

A Ford worker in Turkey may only earn the equivalent of about £2-an-hour but they are far from feeling exploited and are just as worried about their jobs moving abroad.

Second home

Müzeyyen Can, who became the first female labourer at the site, has even moved into the buy-to-let market with her husband, who she met at the factory.

She said: "Me and my husband together earn 2,500 lira (£537-a-month each) .

"It is a very good income for working in Turkey, the minimum wage is 600 lira (£258-a-month).

"You have to be careful when you are spending money, you can't buy everything.

Müzeyyen Can with her husband
Müzeyyen Can and her husband both work at the Ford factory in Turkey

"But we have bought a house and a second home as an investment."

The factory opened in 2001 and currently employs more than 4,500 workers - while the workforce at the Southampton site has been slashed in half with about 550 staff left.

The Kocaeli plant currently makes 700 Transits each day, compared to about 135 in Southampton.

Yücel Yücel, from the Turkish Metalworkers Union, said the factory has still not been immune to economic conditions despite Ford's willingness to move production to the site.

"Our capacity used to be higher - 1,150 Transits a day - but because of the latest financial crisis we cancelled one shift and are now down to 700-a-day.

"We have pretty good relations with Ford, they help us send the workers' children out of the country for education.

'Helped community'

"It is very important for this town, we had a big earthquake in 1999 and 1,000 people died.

"Ford came and made the decision to build the factory, which really helped the community."

Mr Chandler, who worked for Ford for 33 years, said visiting the factory was "emotional". He said he feared for the future of production in England.

"This could be the place which is going to eventually produce everything which we are producing in Southampton," he said.

Bill Chandler at the Ford factory in Turkey
Bill Chandler said it was "emotional" visiting the Turkish plant

"This is a big worry, a big concern for all of us.

"When you look at the investment into this place it tells its own story. The investment in Britain has been run down.

"It has been an incredibly emotional time coming here.

"Especially when I spoke to a young woman who was struggling to bring up her family like we are in England.

"Yet we are in competition in some way for jobs.

"She was also worried about the loss of production and work going to China and India."

Ford declined to be interviewed but said in a statement it must stay profitable "within a competitive European market".

The firm added that Southampton was in line for a major investment into Transit chassis cabs.

It added: "It is intended that the current Transit model will be produced at Southampton until the next generation Transit model is introduced.

"Ford has outlined a multi-million pound investment plan for Southampton as lead plant for the chassis cab variants of the next model Transit."



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SEE ALSO
Tracking lost Ford Transit jobs
02 Apr 10 |  People and Places
UK Transit production extended
31 Mar 10 |  Hampshire
Ex-Vestas workers 'on lower pay'
29 Mar 10 |  Hampshire
Vestas workers on life after redundancy
12 Feb 10 |  Hampshire
Turbine factory shuts over sit-in
21 Jul 09 |  Hampshire
Car giant Ford to cut 850 workers
05 Feb 09 |  Hampshire

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