Hundreds of managerial and white-collar jobs are to go at Ford UK, many at its Dunton operation near Basildon in Essex.
The latest blow to the British motor sector came as Honda confirmed that it is pulling out of the UK and will close its carmaking factory in Swindon in 2021 with the loss of 3,500 jobs, leaving thousands more in the local community and supply chain under threat.
After weeks of speculation that Ford UK was to cut more than 1,000 jobs from its 12,000-strong workforce, it has emerged that about 550 office jobs will be axed.
Many of these will be from its world-renowned Dunton research and development site, which has previously absorbed white-collar staff from the group’s Brentwood headquarters.
The job losses come on top of up to 400 workers being let go from Ford’s Bridgend factory in South Wales, which produces EcoBoost petrol engines for Ford cars. Those are reckoned to be part of more than 900 job cuts planned for the plant by 2021. The factory employs 1,700 people at present.
Ford used to be one of the UK’s largest carmakers and Dagenham, with a workforce of 40,000, was at one stage one of Europe’s biggest car plants. Ford ended production at Dagenham in 2002 and its other big plant, Halewood on Merseyside, is now owned by Jaguar Land Rover — once part of Ford — and is making Range Rover Evoques.
However, Ford has remained one of Britain’s biggest automotive employers. Dunton, in addition to its management offices, has been a global centre of research for Ford’s new generation of more efficient internal combustion engines and employs more than 3,000 people. Another 2,900 work at Dagenham assembling diesel engines. It also makes gearboxes at Halewood.
The job cuts in the UK come amid plans to cut 5,000 jobs in Germany, where Ford carries out most of its car manufacturing. Ford declined to comment on the total number of people it expects to let go in the UK and cited an earlier statement: “The goal is to significantly decrease structural costs, reduce bureaucracy, empower leaders and managers, and eliminate less value-added work.”
There are widespread fears for the future of production elsewhere in the British motor industry.
Jaguar Land Rover, which employed as many as 40,000 in the UK, is cutting 6,000 workers. The future of the 1,300-strong workforce at Vauxhall Ellesmere Port in Cheshire remains in doubt as its new owner Groupe PSA of France considers its options.
Honda yesterday confirmed the closure of Swindon after a legal consultation period with workers.
The manufacturer said: “Following a meaningful and robust consultation process . . . Honda has reached the conclusion that no viable alternatives to the proposed closure of the Swindon plant have been identified.
“The decision to close the plant is part of Honda’s broader global strategy in response to changes to the automotive industry.
“As communicated in February, Honda is accelerating its electrification plans, and as a result resources, capabilities and production systems for electrified vehicles will be focused in regions with a high volume of customer demand.”
Unite, the trade union, said that its members had been betrayed.