652 furious workers from Ford's stamping and tooling plant based in Dagenham, Essex have begun voting on strike action over the company's decision to close the factory.
Last October, Ford announced the end of production at its plant in Southampton and the closure of its stamping and tooling facility in Dagenham with a total loss of around 1,500 jobs and more in the supply chain.
The workers at the stamping and tooling facility are furious over the way they are being treated by the company. Despite promises to find the displaced workers alternative employment, the company is not keeping to its commitments. Over 100 toolmakers have not been found suitable jobs, and workers who are being redeployed are being given very little information about what work they will be doing once they are transferred.
For those workers who wish to accept a severance package, Ford is offering a deal which is between £10,000 and £30,000 less than workers in Southampton are being offered. The cost of a mortgage in Essex is £75,000 higher than in Southampton.
In October last year Ford made great play of the company's new Panther engine being brought to Dagenham, yet the engine still remains unconfirmed and the company has made 750 jobs cuts across Dagenham.
Any strike action would cause severe disruption to the company as the stamping and tooling operation supplies parts to all of Ford's European operations.
Unite national officer Roger Maddison said:
"Ford betrayed its workers when it announced the closure of its plants and now the company is rubbing salt into the loyal workers' wounds by treating them with contempt.
"The workers at Dagenham are furious and they are right to want to stand up to the company's despicable behaviour.
"Skilled workers with over 20 years of experience are being forced to change career but are being given no information about what they'll be doing. Many of them will have their pensions severely slashed and some workers might fail capability tests and be sacked after all.
"To make matters worse over 100 workers have not even been found suitable work despite the company's promise to do so. Skilled workers with years of experience are being thrown on the scrapheap.
"Workers who feel they have to accept a severance package are being offered up to £30,000 less than their colleagues in Southampton. Whether the workforce chooses to stay or go, it is being treated like second class citizens. To make matters worse Ford is bullying workers with threats to withdraw the package on offer if workers take action. This only goes to show that Ford can't be trusted, its threats have only strengthened the workers' resolve.
"A vote for strike action will send a clear message to Ford that its betrayal can't and won't stand."
The ballot closes on 30 April with the result due on 1 May.
Workers from the Dagenham stamping and tooling plant will stage a protest at Ford's head office (CM13 3BY) from 08:00 - 11 :00 today (18 April).
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.