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Ford shocks SA with future plans

2006-01-24 14:23

The trade union attributed the potential retrenchments to the relocation of Volvo and Land Rover production operations in Pretoria's Ford assembly plant to Europe.

Tens of thousands of Ford workers worldwide are facing massive job losses including 4 700 Ford employees in South Africa, Numsa said, ascribing the lay-offs to the company's global turn-around strategy to cut costs.

According to Tshwane local Numsa chairperson Alex Mashilo, in addition to 366 jobs which were shed locally, the company last week proposed that the fixed contracts of 566 workers should not be renewed as most models will be phased out and relocated to China.

"We were forewarned when Volvo Corporation in Sweden decided to recall Volvo production operations back to Sweden because its employees were redundant as the plant was burdened by excess labour," Mashilo said.

The union said the discontinued production of the Ford Ikon last year alerted it of more difficulties.

Furthermore, Numsa argued, the company's local unit posted major losses when the production of Ford Focus in Pretoria/Tshwane for the Australian and New Zealand market was suddenly stopped due to the free trade agreement between Australia and Thailand.

"The company also went through severe depression after losing the lucrative contract for its Port Elizabeth's Struandale plant to produce engines for the European market," the trade union said.

More redundancies had been caused in the Pretoria assembly plant paint shops by introduction of robotic painting machinery.

To avoid retrenchments, the union had to negotiate for the transfer of those workers to other operations.

A Ford spokesperson told I-Net Bridge that the company would be issuing a statement responding to Numsa's claims later on Tuesday.

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