Bill Ford, the Executive Chairman of Ford and a great-grandson of the Company founder Henry Ford believes that vehicle manufacturing is a major contributor to the economy and has described the damage to local communities when factories close.
As Ford workers from the Transit Plant at Swaythling and Barton Park in Eastleigh meet today to discuss whether or they will take action to defend their jobs and the community following the announcement of closure in 2013, Eastleigh News republishes extracts from a talk the Ford boss gave in 2008 which stressed the importance of manufacturing to local, regional and national economies and outlines what could happen to Eastleigh if the Transit plant closes.
In a speech entitled “Why Manufacturing Matters” Mr Ford said of the Auto Industry:
“No other industry generates more manufacturing employment, trade, research and development, and retail business.
“Manufacturing in general, and the auto industry in particular, is a major contributor to the economy. It provides jobs and tax revenue, furthers research and education, creates new products and technologies, promotes overall prosperity, and is critical to national defence.”
On the subject of defence Mr Ford said that during world War two Ford factories had “built the arsenal of Democracy”.
Indeed, many of the buildings Ford currently occupies at Swaythling were used to manufacture Spitfires during the war.
Mr Ford continued:
“Unfortunately, this message has not resonated. There is a sense that manufacturing does not matter in the Information Age.”
Talking about the economic consequences of off shoring production Mr Ford said
“Conventional wisdom assumes we live in a borderless world where the location of a business is irrelevant and the fate of any one enterprise, or even an entire industry, is unimportant. In theory, someone from somewhere else can always step in to provide the products desired with no harm done.
“The problem is, in the real world, there is harm done.
“Factories are closed, jobs are lost, tax revenues that support universities, hospitals, social services and local schools are reduced. Over time, as the strength of its economy is eroded, the quality of life in a city, a state or an entire nation is diminished.”
The last paragraph of Mr Ford’s speech has since been incorporated into Ford Motor Companies on Public Policy document on manufacturing:
“Manufacturing is essential to local, regional and national economies. Manufacturing provides jobs and tax revenue, creates new products and technologies and promotes overall prosperity. When factories are closed, jobs are lost and the tax revenues that support hospitals, social services, local schools and public universities are reduced.”
Last Thursday union members at Dagenham’s stamping plant which is slated for closure downed tools and walked out while in Belgium workers in Genk – which also faces closure with the loss of 4,000 jobs- blockaded the plant and set fire to cars.