Ford Strike Threat!

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THE Unite trade union has threatened Ford with strike action over 850 proposed sackings and the suspension of a negotiated pay deal to provide the redundancy money.

Unite joint general secretary Tony Woodley said: ‘These proposals are completely unacceptable and a betrayal of Ford’s loyal UK workforce.

‘Ford are asking the workers to take a cut in pay to preserve jobs, but workers are asking themselves if their pay is being cut to pay for friends and colleagues to be thrown onto the dole.’

The union is warning that unless Ford ‘thinks again’ on this strategy it will have no option but to ballot members on industrial action to protect jobs and pay.

Woodley continued: ‘Ford has today reached a new low in corporate integrity.

‘While their executives pay themselves handsomely and their European profits alone totalled $1.06bn in 2007/2008, they are using the challenging global circumstances to cut the jobs and pay of the workers who helped make them these massive profits.

‘They must respect this pay deal. If they fail to do so, then we will have no other choice but to consult our members on how they wish to defend their jobs and pay.’

Unite negotiated a three-year pay deal from 2008 across Ford UK.

The union is questioning why Ford is on the one hand declining to apply for US Congress financial assistance on the basis that it has the liquidity to ride out the crisis, while on the other is seeking to cut jobs and pay in the UK.

Meanwhile, workers at Vauxhall Ellesmere Port and GM Luton face wage cuts after union leaders agreed to accept a cut in hours and pay at both plants.

The ‘working time reduction agreements’ are part of plans by General Motors to cuts costs across Europe in the face of falling sales.

Following talks between company management and senior union officials, workers at Ellesmere Port have been told their working week will be cut from 38 to 30 hours.

Workers in Luton will also see their hours cut, from 38 to 34 per week.

The Vauxhall Ellesmere Port plant has already stopped production for one month, and workers at GM Luton were off for three weeks at Christmas and are continuing to have ‘down days’.

About 2,000 people are employed at the Cheshire plant, which produces the Astra five-door model and the Astra van.

About 400 worker at Luton make the Vivaro van.

Vauxhall said in a statement: ‘The working time reduction agreements have been reached following extensive talks between senior GM management representatives from across all GM’s European Operations and senior Trade Union leaders.

‘Dialogue has been constructive and supportive.’

• The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee yesterday cut interest rates to a record low of one per cent from 1.5 per cent, the fifth rate cut since October.

In a statement, the Bank claimed that the rate cuts, along with government measures to boost the economy, ‘would provide a considerable stimulus to activity as the year progressed.’