Ford confirms axe for Dagenham workers

Ford plant in Dagenham, Essex.
Ford plant in Dagenham, Essex. Photo: PA

There is shock in Dagenham in Essex as Ford announces it is axing hundreds of jobs at one of its plants.

Ford has been making vehicles in Dagenham for 80 years and has created thousands of jobs in the area.

So what does the announcement mean for its future?

Unions are accusing Ford of "betrayal" after the company announced the losses at its Dagenham plant.

Its stamping operation there will close next year.

The unions claim 750 workers are being axed there. Although initially it was thought that the company was set to just make heavy redundancies at its Southampton site. It is expected there will be up to 1,500 jobs across both sites now, sources said.

The Transit van plant in Southampton will close next summer, with the loss of more than 500 jobs and the site in Dagenham will shut at the same time.

Ford said it hoped to achieve the job losses through voluntary redundancies and redeployment.

It has also been announced that it would be investing in a new diesel engine range at Dagenham.

Phil Bayles reports.

The Dagenham plant opened in 1931. At its height of production in 1953 around 40,000 people worked there.

But it has dwindled to a fraction of that number since then.

The grim news was given to union officials at a meeting with the company and was described as "devastating" by one official.

Union officials said some new posts will be created at the Dagenham engine plant which will build Ford's new Panther engine.

It is understood that Ford will offer a generous redundancy package and redeployment to workers who want to stay with the company.

This is devastating news for the workers in Southampton and Dagenham and is very bad news for UK manufacturing.

Ford's track record in Britain is one of broken promises and factory closures. There will be a feeling of shock and anger, and Ford's commitment on investment will cut little ice.

– Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB union

Ford employs around 11,400 workers in the UK at plants including Dagenham, Halewood on Merseyside and Bridgend in South Wales.

Ford has unveiled plans to close its factory in Genk, Belgium, with the loss of 4,300 jobs and said more details of its "transformation" plan for Europe will be given soon.

The proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford's business in Europe and to return to profitable growth.

– Stephen Odell, chairman and chief executive of Ford of Europe

Mr Odell met union officials to give them the news.