Shop stewards and convenors at the Ford Transit Van plant in Southampton have voted to back a campaign to keep the factory open as Ford threatens a jobs massacre that could see 1,400 workers axed in Southampton and Dagenham.
Ford is attempting to buy off the workers in the Southampton plant with handsome severance packages of up to £80,000 and more.
The packages also include a bonus for “uninterrupted production” — that is, a direct incentive for workers not to take part in any industrial action against the closures.
The news of the planned closures came just days after Ford received an undisclosed sum of money from the government’s Regional Growth Funds. It has since emerged that the government knew of the closure plans before awarding the sum. The factory in Turkey to which the Southampton plant’s work will be sent was also the beneficiary of an £80 million loan from the European Investment Bank last October. The EIB’s board of governors includes Tory chancellor George Osborne.
The Southampton plant suffered 700 job losses in 2008, and the closure of the plant is also expected to hit 81 other firms along Ford’s supply chain which provide components and materials.
The decision of the Southampton stewards to campaign against closure must now be ratified by an all-members’ meeting. The Unite union says strike ballots have “not been ruled out”.
Meanwhile, workers at a Ford plant in Genk, Belgium, blockaded the factory’s gates after Ford announced the transfer of the plant’s work to Spain in early 2014.
The closure will lead to the loss of more than 4,000 jobs.