Ford summoned senior officials from its employees’ trade unions to a meeting at its national headquarters in Basildon, near London amidst reports that the U.S. car maker is closing its van factory in Southampton. The closure would end more than a century of vehicle production by the company in Britain, Reuters reports.
The decision is aimed to stem losses in Europe by slashing fixed costs at underused manufacturing sites. The decision will also see a cut of 530 British jobs and leave Ford producing only engines and other parts at its remaining plants in the country.
A source close to Ford said that the company will also disclose plans to manufacture new diesel engines at the nearby Dagenham plant that employs about 4, 000 workers creating diesel engines and panels.
The Southampton factory located at England’s south coast has already built about 6 million Ford transit vans in the past 45 years but would cease production by the end of 2013. One source also said that expectations are up that the company would move its Transit production to Turkey.
“Ford will move Transit production to Turkey where the wages for staff are so low Britain just can’t compete,” said Roger Maddison, the Unite union’s national officer for the automotive industry. “The Transit van is associated with the ‘white van man’ tradesmen in Britain and is iconic, like London’s black cabs, and it will be sad to see it go.”
The reports regarding the closure came a day after Ford announced that it would cease the operations of its Belgium plant in 2014 as part of its wide-range restructuring program. Shutting down the 48 year old Genk plant could translate to 4, 300 job loss.
Ford has yet to make an official comment regarding the plans for its British operations.