Ford has announced plans to close its plant in Southampton and downsize operations in Dagenham with risks to 1,400 jobs.
As politicians and pundits welcome the GDP figures, a reminder of how tricky this recovery is going to be emerges from the Ford plants.
Scientists have taken half a million photographs to make the first-ever "road map" of the floor of an abyss, 12 miles long, 4 miles wide.
The leader of Southampton City Council, Richard Williams, gave this statement in response to the decision to close the Ford Transit Van factory in the city:
This is the news we feared and it's a very bad day for the city. It certainly doesn't feel as if we are coming out of recession here in Southampton.
Now that we know the plant is to close next summer, we have to act quickly to support the 500 workers affected and alleviate the knock-on effect of such a blow to local industry.
The city council will be forming a taskforce along with trade unions, Jobcentre Plus and local MPs to help find new employment for the affected staff.
He added that it was important to protect the "strategically well-placed site" of the factory for "manufacturing and engineering" operations.
Workers in Ford's Transit van assembly factory in Southampton were sent home for the day after they were informed that the plant will be closing.
"Our expectation is that about 1,000 people will accept the voluntary [redundancy] offer - and to repeat, it is a voluntary offer - and therefore about 1,000 plus people will leave the company," said Ford Europe CEO Stephen Odell.
He said the company has to "reflect the economic and business conditions that they are involved in" and that the European automotive industry was "20 percent below where it was in 2007".
The Southampton Labour MP John Denham, who is also the parliamentary aide to Ed Miliband, has described Ford's decision to shut the factory that makes the Transit van as "devastating":
White van man drives a Southampton transit. Now he'll have to buy it from Turkey. Fords decision bad for UK, devastating for SouthamptonFrom @JohnDenhamMP on Twitter:
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
Today’s news will be very disappointing for the workers at Southampton and Dagenham who have been very aware of the challenges facing the auto sector throughout Europe. Our priority will be to help the workforce and we will be working with Ford to get them into new jobs as quickly as possible.
Ford has today underlined its continued long term commitment to its core activities in the UK and its £1.5 billion programme of investment in advanced manufacturing, engineering and research and development until 2015.
And the company has today announced that production of the new low carbon diesel engine will start in 2015/6 which is being designed and engineered at Dunton and built at Dagenham. This is good news and underlines Ford’s commitment for the long term. Ford has applied for money from round 3 of the Government's Regional Growth Fund to enable this project to go ahead and we were pleased last Friday to announce support for this going forward.
Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Ummuna said Ford's UK job cuts reinforce Labour's stance that today's GDP figures leave no "room for complacency" on the economy:
Ford's announcement shows there is no room for any complacency whatsoever as we seek to secure and strengthen the economyFrom @ChukaUmunna on Twitter:
The shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has tweeted his reaction to Ford closing its factory in Southampton and a plant in Dagenham:
Ford’s decision to cease vehicle production in the UK marks the end of an era and is a very sad dayFrom @ChukaUmunna on Twitter:
Ford's decision will come as a devastating blow to 1100 Ford workers set to lose their jobs, with more put at risk in their supply chain tooFrom @ChukaUmunna on Twitter:
Restructuring of Ford's UK operations will see investment in a new diesel engine range at the Dagenham plant, which will mean:
- Combined engine output from Dagenham to remain around one million
- 2,000 high-value engineering/manufacturing jobs supported
- 3,500 engineering, design, admin and support jobs supported at Dunton
The Southampton Plant will end commercial vehicle production in July 2013:
- Currently employs around 500
- Has been operating single shift since 2009
- With annual production of under 30,000 – less than 50% plant utilisation
A Ford statement said its job cuts would affect "about 13 percent" of its European workforce:
The actions announced today - along with a previously announced initiative to reduce approximately 500 salaried and agency positions across Europe, with the Ford salaried reductions achieved voluntarily - affect 6,200 positions or about 13 percent of Ford's European workforce.
That includes 4,300 positions in Genk and 1,400 positions in the UK. Ford's goal is to achieve employee reductions in the UK through voluntary means, enhanced employee separation programs and redeployment to other Ford locations.
It added that it hoped to achieve the reductions "through voluntary means":
Ford's goal is to achieve employee reductions in the UK through voluntary means, enhanced employee separation programs and redeployment to other Ford locations.
Ford has confirmed the closure of its Transit van factory in Southampton and its stamping and tooling site in Dagenham, Essex, with the loss of 1,400 jobs.
A statement outlining changes to its European facilities said:
Actions include the planned closure of two UK facilities next year – Ford’s assembly plant in Southampton, and stamping and tooling operations in Dagenham.
It follows yesterday's announcement that it also plans to close its factory in Genk, Belgium.
These three facilities currently employ approximately 5,700 hourly and salaried employees.