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Ford denies union claims

2006-01-25 11:13

This week the world's third-largest vehicle maker said that up to 30 000 jobs would be lost and 14 manufacturing plants closed in North America as part of its "way forward" restructuring plan to cut costs.

"Presently there are no plans to retrench any employees [in South Africa]," FMCSA spokesperson Ben Pillay said on Wednesday.

He said the parent company's plan focused on restoring profitability to Ford's North American business.

"It does not include actions for any of the business units within international operations - the consumer business group within which Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa operates."

The company said no jobs were lost when it discontinued production of Ford Ikon and Land Rover Defenders in South Africa last month.

"The labour was deployed to other areas within the assembly plant with no lay-offs," Pillay said.

"During January 2006, 540 fixed-term contractors were made permanent employees."

About 360 people remained fixed-term contractors and their status was yet to be reviewed.

"It's an ongoing business. They are assessed as and when their contracts expire."

The FMCSA continuously reviewed how many vehicles should be made to meet market demand, and would assess the remaining contracts of temporary workers accordingly, he added.

Numsa's branch chairperson Alex Mashilo said on Tuesday "we were forewarned" that the FMCSA - which manufactures Volvos in South Africa on behalf of the Volvo Corporation in Sweden - would stop doing so, and job losses would result. The production would be "recalled" to Sweden.

However, Pillay said no decision had yet been made about its Volvo production operations.

"We are still producing," he said.

"Last year we made 1 500 but that's only 2% of our build... with low volumes come complexities.

"They [the Volvo Corporation] may want to consolidate their spare capacity in Europe, but that decision is not ours."

Numsa was alerted to difficulties to come when production of the popular Ford Ikon was discontinued in December, Mashilo said.

The FMCSA posted major losses when production of the Ford Focus in Pretoria for the Australian and New Zealand markets was suddenly stopped due to the free trade agreement between Australia and Thailand, Numsa claimed.

Ford said there was no validity in this.

"Australia has upped its requirement for Focuses by 2 000 a month.

"Last year we produced 98 and this will increase to 24 000 this year," said Pillay.

"That's a big jump."

I-Net Bridge reports Mashilo said: "The content of the (Numsa) press statement released on January 24, is in greater part regrettable."

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