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Ford to slash 12,000 jobs as it closes European factories

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter

12,000 jobs could be slashed at Ford’s manufacturing plants across Europe, as the carmaker rolls out a major cost-cutting plan.

The company announced the scale of job losses on Thursday as it confirmed it will close or sell six of its 24 facilities across Europe by the end of 2020.

It said in a statement the wave of redundancies will come “primarily through voluntary separation programmes.”

The jobs at risk include 3,000 across the UK, including 1,700 in Bridgend, according to the FT.

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The news comes on the same day new figures show UK car production is down for a 12th consecutive month against the previous year, with output down 15.5% in May.

More than 20,000 fewer vehicles were manufactured in the UK last month than in May 2018, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The car industry is suffering from a global slowdown in sales, with lower demand in China, falling diesel sales in Europe and tougher regulation from the EU’s new emission-testing system.

There are fears Brexit and increased trade barriers in the US could curb production even further in an industry where competition is tight.

Ford described the huge cutbacks as part of “the most comprehensive redesign in the history of its business in Europe.”

The company confirmed its Ford of Britain and Ford Credit Europe headquarters in Warley will be closed, with operations consolidated in Dunton.

Plans to close the Bridgend Engine Plant had already been announced, in a devastating blow for the South Wales town.

Plants in Russia and France will also be closed, while another plant in Slovakia will be sold to Magna.

Engineers working on a Jaguar V8 engine at the Ford engine plant near Bridgend, south Wales. Photo: Press Association

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The firm said 2,000 of the 12,000 “impacted” jobs were salaried positions within the company or its consolidated joint ventures.

Stuart Rowley, president of Ford of Europe, said: “Separating employees and closing plants are the hardest decisions we make, and in recognition of the effect on families and communities, we are providing support to ease the impact.”

“We are grateful for the ongoing consultations with our works councils, trade union partners and elected representatives. Together, we are moving forward and focused on building a long-term sustainable future for our business in Europe.”

Ford currently employs around 65,000 people across Europe through its wholly owned and joint venture arms.

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The scale of the job losses makes it a significant landmark in Ford’s history in Europe, which dates back more than a century.

Rival General Motors drew back from Europe in 2017, blaming Brexit as the final straw as it sold the Opel and Vauxhall brands it had owned since the 1920s.

Carmakers like Ford face an enormous financial challenge to both adapt their vehicles to meet increasingly tough clear-air rules and invest in a new generation of electric, hybrid and autonomous cars.

Rowley added: “Implementing our new strategy quickly enables us to invest and grow our leading commercial vehicle business and provide customers with more electrified vehicles, SUVs, exciting performance derivatives and iconic imported models.”

“Our future is rooted in electrification,” he said.