20/02/2002

Party ends at Ford's Dagenham plant

Ford's biggest UK car plant at Dagenham produced their final Fiestas on Wednesday February 20, ending over 70 years of car making at the Essex factory.

Under plans first unveiled in May 2000, the facility will now switch to the production of diesel engines for the entire Ford group, underpinned by a £340 million investment programme.

The move is expected to cost about 1,100 jobs, although many more workers have already gone in recent years, the diesel engine operation is due to take on an extra 500 assembly workers. Of the 1,100 workers affected by the job cuts, 250 have been given other jobs at Dagenham, or in other Ford plants.

Most of the rest are believed to have taken early retirement or voluntary redundancy packages.

The changes at Dagenham are part of a restructuring exercise launched two years ago to stem operating losses at Ford's European operations, running at an estimated £700 million a year.

The Dagenham plant, which once employed 34,000 workers, has gained a reputation for poor industrial relations and a high rate of absenteeism.

(GB)

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