A new wave of redundancies and pay cuts hits car manufacturing in the UK, as companies aim to take back the cost of the recession from the workforce.
Ford are looking to axe 7% of its UK workforce, with nearly half of the staff at its Southampton Transit plant lined up to go. The company is also seeking to renege on the pay deal of 5.2% agreed with the unions, as it seeks to fund the redundancy packages from the pay of the workers. Other sites hit will include plants in Basildon, the facility at Brentwood and Dunton, in Essex, Daventry in Northamptonshire, Halewood on Merseyside and Bridgend in South Wales.
The company is claiming that the earlier agreements were untenable as the recession hits the purchase of new cars.
The cutting of pay to fund redundancies could lead to a strike ballot, with the Unite union’s general secretary Tony Woodley telling the press: ‘Ford are asking the workers to take a cut in pay to preserve jobs, but workers are asking themselves if their pay is being cut to pay for friends and colleagues to be thrown onto the dole.’ A worker interviewed at the plant told the BBC ‘They said the redundancies will be voluntary but they will not get that many.’ A mass meeting on the situation was held at the plant yesterday.
The same plant put staff on a four day week last year, and saw a wildcat walkout by 100 workers against cuts in October.
The Nissan factory in Sunderland- its most productive facility in Europe – also axed 1,200 jobs last year and cut back shifts.
Meanwhile, workers at the International Automotive Components plant in Liverpool launched wildcat strikes for two days over redundancies, pay and conditions. The factory supplies the neighbouring Jaguar plant with dashboard components, and the production lines at the Jaguar site were said to be 20 minutes from closure following the action. The action follows a wave of industrial action by energy workers against exclusion from contracts awarded on new building contracts, resulting in the creation of over 100 unfilled jobs at the Lindsay Oil Refinery in North Lincolnshire.