Car and van manufacturer Ford is axing over 1,400 jobs as the US company stops vehicle manufacturing in the UK.
Employees Ford‘s site in Dagenham have walked out following the news.
Ford is shutting its Southampton plant where the company makes Transit vans, closing its last remaining vehicle manufacturing site in the UK with 500 jobs set to go.
The US company is restructuring its European operations with sales falling by 20% since 2007 and will also end its stamping operation in Dagenham, with 750 manufacturing jobs set to go alongside 50 people in support services roles.
Manufacture of Ford Transit will move to a facility operated by Ford Otosan in Kocaeli, Turkey.
Tony Burke, assistant general secretary at the union Unite slammed the company’s handling of the decision with “people finding out they have lost their jobs on the lunchtime news.”
Ford have stated that all redundancies will be voluntary and that staff can be redeployed but the chances of this looks slim with Mr Burke saying that it will oppose the plans.
Ford’s European operations are losing money at a fast pace, with loses expected to exceed $1.5 billion (£0.9bn) for 2012.
Ford is projecting profitability in Europe by 2015, which it plans to achieve by higher market share, growth in emerging markets and cheaper efficiencies in its manufacturing.
The decision means that Southampton is Ford’s 16th plant to close in 15 years, and leaving just engine making in the UK.
Ford have signalled that the jobs may be redeployed with the company preparing to launch a new low carbon two litre engine that will be made in Dagenham but there is a three year time lag.
The engine will be developed at Ford’s Technical Centre in Dunton, Essex, one of the largest automotive R&D centres in the UK.
Additional investment also is expected at Ford’s Bridgend Engine Plant in South Wales to support ongoing high volumes of petrol engine manufacture.
“The challenges facing the European car industry have become more structural than cyclical in nature and require decisive action,” said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe.
Mr Odell signalled that further redundancies may be made in the future as it targets expanding markets in Europe, such as Russia and Turkey, with sales declining in Western Europe.
Paul Everitt, chief executive at Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: “The decline in European vehicle markets and the uncertain future growth prospects has resulted in a number of vehicle manufacturers restructuring their operations. These are difficult times for the European automotive industry as manufacturers adapt to new market conditions and changing patterns of global demand.”
He added, “the immediate priority is to help those affected to secure alternative employment.”