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D-day for 330 Ford workers tomorrow

Difficult day: Ford Australia has asked all workers to attend meetings with managers tomorrow, with 212 set to get bad news.

Ford shuts plant for a day to provide dignified departure for redundant staff

Ford logo15 Nov 2012

FORD Australia will halt production at its Victorian factories for a day tomorrow as it gives notice to 212 workers in the latest round of 330 redundancies to downsize its operation by almost 30 per cent to cope with falling demand for its locally built vehicles.

The decision to declare Friday a ‘non-production day’ was made to give the sacked workers a dignified departure, apparently after consultation with the workforce at the Broadmeadows and Geelong facilities.

To disguise which workers are leaving, all employees have been asked to attend a private appointment with their manager, and all will be handed an envelope of information detailing the latest programs, even if they are not one of the involuntary redundancies.

Ford has already received 118 volunteers for redundancy, leaving a further 212 to get their marching orders tomorrow.

In July, the company originally announced that it would cut its workforce by 440, but last month said it had found redeployment for about 110 of those workers, mainly in product development and at Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV), which will taken in-house from January.

Ford appears to be keen to avoid a repeat of the unseemly departure of 350 sacked workers at Toyota’s Altona plant in April.

Toyota drew criticism for singling out workers at their factory work stations and escorting them from the premises under heavy security to a nearby reception centre, all under the scrutiny of television cameras.

Ford Australia public affairs director Sinead Phipps told GoAuto today that Ford had sought the opinion of its workers on how the redundancies should be handled.

She said the workers were keen not have the departing employees singled out in front of their workmates or the media in what she described as “a very difficult day”.

All departing workers will be given a pack of information offering services such as retraining courses and financial counseling to help ease the transition.

The event was to have been kept under wraps from the media, but it appears to have leaked out from union sources.

The 330 redundancies will be split between the Broadmeadows assembly plant – where Ford’s locally developed Falcon and Territory are built – and the Geelong facility that supplies components and assemblies such as six-cylinder engines, panels and castings.

Ms Phipps said the split was about 50-50 between the factories, although slightly more will be leaving from Broadmeadows.

Production at Broadmeadows – Ford’s only car assembly plant in Australia – is being cut from 209 vehicles a day to 148 as the Blue Oval brand scales back its local operation in the face of declining sales of Australian-made large cars.

Sales of Ford’s Falcon sedan are down 26.2 per cent this year, to just 11,719 vehicles, while Falcon ute volumes are down 14.3 per cent, to 4920 units to end of October.

By contrast, Territory sales are up 16 per cent, to 12,459 vehicles, mainly on the back of the new diesel variant that has given the big SUV renewed strength in the market place.

Rival Holden cut 100 jobs at its Elizabeth plant in South Australia in February, and in September announced an unspecified number of ‘closedown’ days in the final quarter of this year to cope with a 23.8 per cent slump in sales of its locally made cars this year.

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