Ford announced at the end of October that it was closing its Transit plant in Southampton next July with the loss of 500 jobs, a further 1,000 to go elsewhere in Britain. This marks the end of vehicle production by Ford in Britain, which began in 1911 with a Model T assembly plant in Trafford Park, Manchester (the first planned industrial estate in the world).
Photo: Philip Lange/Shutterstock.com
About 16,800 new Transits were registered in Britain in 2011. The number is down about 20 per cent this year. All will be imported in future. And over 50 per cent of the Southampton production was exported. The workers there had been told not long ago that there would be investment in a new product.
Nigel Farage, MEP for Hampshire, revealed that the EU has granted Ford an £80 million loan to boost its Kocaeli plant in Turkey, where Southampton’s Transit production will be moved. The EU also gave Ford a preferential interest rate at 2 per cent. British workers are subsidising the loss of jobs here as Britain is a net contributor to the EU budget. Wages in Turkey are much lower than in Britain, averaging about £4 an hour. So Ford gains three times over.
At the same time, Ford announced the closure of the Genk plant in Belgium, with the loss of 4,300 jobs. Over 20,000 people rallied in the town on the site of a former coal mine. Britt Thijs, the 9-year-old daughter of one of the Genk workers, said from the stage, “I am not only concerned about the future of Ford employees but also about my future. Will I still get the chance to study further? Will I still get a chance at a job?” Unlikely, Britt, unless we get out of the EU. ■