Ex Ford steward calls for EU trade review

Flashback 2008: Ford workers start fight to keep Transit in Britain pic: Bill Chandler

A former Unite shop steward who was employed at Ford’s Eastleigh depot  has criticised the company’s announcement to switch production of the Transit van from Swaythling to Turkey and has called on the government to review it trading agreements with countries outside the EU.

Bill Chandler, 59, spent 32 years working for Ford at Barton Park, Swaythling and Dagenham before becoming too ill to work in 2006.

The unite member still takes an active interest in the plant and was outside its gates on Thursday to show support for his former  workmates on the day  of the ’big announcement’.

Speaking to Eastleigh News from his Romsey home Mr Chandler said he thought that the closure of the Southampton plant showed that the government needed to review its trade agreements with countries that are outside the EU.

“ I want the government to look at these special trading arrangements which allow corporations like Ford to close factories here and rebuild them cheaply outside the EU and then export the goods back into the EU again”

He also said he was dismayed the company had failed to honour pledges made in 2009 when it halved production at the plant and let 500 staff go, sending their jobs  to Turkey, while promising that Southampton would be chosen to build the next generation Transit chassis cabs in 2013.

Two years ago Mr  Chandler traveled to Turkey to see the Ford plant there for himself and to meet with workers and union reps as part of a BBC Radio Solent investigation into the background reasons for Ford’s decision to offshore Transit production.

During the programme a 52 year-old Ford worker from Eastleigh who was made redundant in 2009 described the Southampton Ford plant as ‘on death row’ and  the chassis cab plan as a ‘red herring’.

“I’m not totally convinced the chassis cab plan is viable- I hope it is  -but I’m very sceptical  about its prospects of success

“The sort of quantities they are talking about will just make it (the plant) unviable -they certainly have the capacity at Turkey to take that production over.

“I just wonder if it s just a red herring to distract the workers from what is really in store for them”

On Thursday Ford workers had told Eastleigh News that no attempt had been made by Ford to commence installing new tooling for the chassis cabs, the production of which was due to begin in just seven months time.

Not all the research for the BBC programme was broadcast – for example the amounts of money that was being siphoned from British Taxpayers via the EU to spend on developing Turkish industry to enable it to ‘compete’ with EU member states – money that went towards building factories and infrastructure  for large corporations like Ford.

It was also discovered that the then Head of Ford’s European operation John Fleming – who decided to switch production form Southampton to Turkey – was (and still is) also a director of the Turkish company, Otosan, which builds Transits there for Ford under licence.

You can listen to Redundant South: Where did my Job go? Here

  5 comments for “Ex Ford steward calls for EU trade review

  1. Peter Stewart
    October 27, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Instead of asking our Government to review its arrangements with countries OUTSIDE the EU, the unions should be DEMANDING we leave the EU altogether.

    The EU is the mortal enemy of British workers. It is run by fat cat globalists who don’t give a damn about your jobs, only maximizing their own personal fortunes by exploiting the cheapest foreign labour they can find.

    But we have let them do it by voting in successive Labour or Conservative governments who have allowed the destruction of more than 6 million British manufacturing jobs since 1973 when they cunningly outlawed our protective tariffs.

    With their insatiable appetite for cheap foreign labour, in 2004 they opened our borders to every worker in eastern Europe, thereby threatening our service workers too. And what did you do to protest? Or did you just carry on voting Labour or Conservative.

    The time has come for British workers to take action to protect their jobs. See what UKIP has to offer. It may not be perfect, but leaving the EU is essential.

  2. October 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I cant see that getting our govt to examine trade agreements with non EU countries is going to make any difference. Our govt it would seem have big questions to answer over thier involvement and possible collusion over the shut down of the plant.

    The main question is why did Ford go to Turkey? The cheap labour and lack of regulation, unlike EU countries, is the likely answer as I think we are all aware of. We are not the only country to feel the effect of similar decesions.

    Indeed, in the birth country of Ford, the USA, you will find much anger directed towards Ford.

    Ford, one of the bedrock US national symbols of what made America great during the 20th century, downsized and closed many of its US plants, leaving behind those horrific relics of American greatness whose pictures circulate the web and that greets visitors to Detroit, Michigan.

    Their investment over the past decade has been in its huge automated Brazilian plant, where largely non-existent pollution regulations and cheap, non-union labour will service the robots that turn out most of the cars for the North American and European markets.

    Is boycotting Ford the answer here? Perhaps.
    Ford are boycotting countries such as the UK with a long standing loyal customer base.

    Maybe ignoring them and doing business with other companies is the simpler and less costly option.

  3. Peter Stewart
    October 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Does anyone know if any Ford Transit sized vans are made in Britain today? If so then that’s what I’ll buy next time. I want to support British industry, not drive a nail into its coffin. To my horror I discovered my van was made in … Turkey! I had thought all SWB Transits were made in Swaythling but not so. Anyway, I shall DEFINITELY be holding my own personal boycott of Ford vehicles from this moment on. If anyone wants to join me and confirm their personal commitment to doing the same here and now, then I guess you can say we are fighting back against Ford’s fat-cat globalist profiteering in our own little way. You never know, we might start something which leads to Ford reconsidering their foolish decision. I figure even a 10% loss of sales would make them think again.

  4. jan weller
    November 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Whilst I am appalled by the behaviour of the Ford Motor Co. it doesn’t surprise me in the least,Foriegn Companies care nothing for loyalty and they are a ‘Foriegn’ company after all said and done. I do feel very sorry that the Ford workers will be out of work, but let us not forget that so will any workers that work for companies that have supported Fords over many years, and while Ford’s workers will get a more than generous payout and lots of advice spare a thought for those who will be out of a job and will not get more than the usaul redundancy payouts and some nothing at all..IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT THE Ford workers, maybe someone should ask the nonFord workers how they are going to cope and how they will be able to get jobs when there is so very little in this area..

  5. Charlie
    November 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    Jan, I’ve only just read your comment. Very well made point. I’d not considered that angle myself, and I guess it will affect many people from a wide variety of trades and professions. I wish I had a magic wand.

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