Ford is meeting its commitments to maintain UK investment and to complete UK restructuring plans entirely through voluntary separations or redeployment within the company. Employees affected by the restructuring actions have received individual support and local areas have benefitted by the establishment of community funds set up by Ford.
In autumn last year Ford of Europe announced plans to address manufacturing overcapacity stemming from the more than 20 per cent drop in total industry vehicle demand across Western Europe. New vehicle sales in the region are at a 20-year low having suffered a prolonged downturn since 2008.
The announcement included plans to close two facilities in the UK in 2013 – the Ford Transit assembly plant in Southampton and stamping and tooling operations in Dagenham (DSTO).
Ford’s UK operations remain a global centre of excellence for powertrain development and production. This was underlined with confirmation of a new next-generation, low-CO2, 2.0-litre diesel engine range to be manufactured at Dagenham from 2016 to power future Ford vehicles in Europe and beyond.
The engine is to be developed at Ford’s Technical Centre in Dunton, Essex, and at the Dagenham Diesel Centre. Further investment has also been announced at Ford’s Bridgend Engine Plant in South Wales to produce a new 1.5-litre version of the EcoBoost petrol engine range. Ford Dunton has the global lead for the company in powertrain and commercial vehicle engineering.
Stephen Odell, president of Ford Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “We understand the impact of these restructuring actions on our employees and have provided individual support to ensure that all employees have made fully informed decisions about their future on a voluntary basis. We are reaffirming our commitment to the UK with a major investment in powertrain and engineering, which reinforces the UK’s central role in Ford’s global powertrain strategy and commercial vehicle engineering.”
New Ford businesses established in Southampton
Commercial vehicle production at Southampton plant ends officially on July 26, 2013. All of the 531 employees affected have either chosen redeployment within Ford, voluntary separation or early retirement. New and expanded Ford operations created in Southampton are providing positions for 134 of these employees.
Ford is investing £12 million in a Vehicle Distribution Centre at Southampton docks and a Vehicle Refurbishment Centre on the plant site. The distribution centre will form part of Ford’s logistics operations, involved in import vehicle handling and onward distribution, and the shipping of engines to China. Low mileage used vehicles will be processed by the refurbishment centre for supply to the Ford Direct sales programme.
A further 41 Southampton employees have taken up positions at other Ford locations in the UK and so far 41 employees have taken up offers of alternative employment outside the company.
New tool room at Dagenham engine plant
Stamping and tooling operations at Dagenham also closes on July 26. Again the 750 employees affected have either accepted the enhanced separation terms or early retirement programmes or will be redeployed within the company.
Ford is investing £1.9 million at Dagenham to establish a new powertrain tool room within the engine plant. Together with other positions in the local area this has enabled a total of 400 employees from DSTO to be redeployed within the company and a number of others are pursuing employment opportunities outside Ford.
Six Transits go to worthy causes
DSTO’s largest customer for panels has been the Southampton plant, and this connection has been recognised by six of the last Transit vehicles to be produced at Southampton going to local charities and communities associated with each of the sites.*
In addition, the last vehicle to be produced at Southampton is being retained to take on an active role in the company’s 100-vehicle-strong heritage collection.
Ford’s continued commitment to the local communities in Southampton and Dagenham has been underlined by the establishment of a £1 million community fund shared equally between the locations. The fund is being used to support local employability and education initiatives.
Social plans established
During the consultation process following the restructuring announcement, management at DSTO and Southampton worked closely with employee representatives to establish a social plan that would support employees. This included engaging consultants to help individual employees with career and financial advice.
Training and education opportunities have been provided for employees and job fairs held at each site have been successful in presenting job opportunities with a range of employers.
Future use of the sites
Ford has been conducting studies into the Southampton and Dagenham Stamping and Tooling sites. The studies cover areas such as environmental remediation, legal and planning matters and future potential uses of the sites.
It is expected that the sites will be secured for employment usage and Ford will hold detailed discussions with local authorities and other key stakeholders on the options for their marketing and re-use.
*Six Transit vehicles are being donated by Southampton Plant and Dagenham Stamping and Tooling Operations to local charities and communities. The recipients of the vehicles in the Southampton area are Naomi House (Naomi House and Jacksplace are hospices for children and young people), Cedar School (caters for pupils with a wide range of disabilities and special educational needs) and Southampton City Council Community (the first ever Transit van made at Southampton Plant was donated to the Mayor of the City. In keeping with this tradition, the third bus is being donated to Southampton City Council who will use the bus for charities and communities in the city). The recipients of the three Transits in the Dagenham area will be confirmed soon.