“Why manufacturing matters”

Bill Ford

Bill Ford. Pic © S Jurvetson

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.

See also:  Huhne: Ford closure ‘hammerblow’ to local economy 

  5 comments for ““Why manufacturing matters”

  1. October 29, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Mr Fords words read of hollow sentiments now the axe has been swung.

    His last paragraph however,

    Manufacturing is essential to local, regional and national economies. Manufacturing provides jobs and tax revenue, creates new products and technologies and promotes overall prosperity..etc

    ……Sounds good to me. I cant think why no one has thought of this before!

  2. Charlie
    October 30, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I understand that the workers in these places are devastated and frustrated, but I struggle to see the point of striking beyond the feeling that at least they are doing something. I wouldn’t have thought it would make much difference to the Company.

  3. Peter Stewart
    October 31, 2012 at 10:26 am

    THIS IS A BIT OF A RANT BUT I THINK YOU WILL AGREE WITH ITS SENTIMENTS

    It’s easy to say from a distance, but I believe the workers SHOULD go on strike while they still can, while they are still workers, before rip-off Ford destroys their jobs completely.

    But even after Ford has cut and run, we, the people can take our own action against Ford. If you share my sentiments, that Ford has descended into nothing but a fat-cat globalist rip off company whose only motive is to maximize its profits by exploiting the cheapest possible labour, anywhere in the world, regardless of the devastation it causes as it goes about its brazen profiteering, then, if you too share my sentiments, you may want to consider doing what I am doing, i.e. never buying another Ford vehicle again, EVER. What’s more, I shall advise others to do the same. Quite clearly, Ford have not only stuck two fingers up at “their” workers, but at Swaythling, Southampton, England and the the whole of Britain, indeed the developed world. They don’t give a damn about anything except their own profiteering…yes! profiteering is getting your profits by immoral means, and I say it is immoral to export people’s jobs to developing countries without the permission of the wokers who will lose their jobs. They say charity begins at home. That means British jobs are the birthright of the British people. They are not to be given away like so much loose change popped into a charity box. So the bottom line Mr Fat-Cat Ford is I hope your whole rotten company goes under. Of course I shall take this all back if Ford rethinks its policy of transferring manufacturing to areas of cheap foreign labour and decides once again to open factories in Britain. If Ford wants to sell its vehicles in Britain, then let us DEMAND that Ford opens factories in Britain and uses properly paid British labour.

  4. Charlie
    October 31, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Peter, that was a cracking rant!

    I had prepared a long response to it, too, but there was a an error when I submitted it, now I can’t remember all I was going to say :-(.

    The long and short of it was that this is part of what I see as Ford trying to give CPR to its business in the face of cheaper foreign cars.

    Truth is Ford have been shrinking for years. I remember the loss of the Langley truck plant. Now they produce no commercial vehicles. The used to produce their own premium cars (Granada/Scorpio), Land Rover/Range Rover and Volvo, now they don’t.

    The best thing the Council’s task force and the Unions can do is try to attract one of the more successful manufacturers to the site; BMW, Merc, JLR, etc. Where better for them, so close to Motorway, rail, air and sea ports?

    However I wonder if Ford have built a restrictive clause into the freehold/lease preventing a competitor taking it over. That would be an unbelievably selfish move.

  5. Stephen Slominski
    November 1, 2012 at 12:00 am

    “The best thing the Council’s task force and the Unions can do is try to attract one of the more successful manufacturers to the site; BMW, Merc, JLR, etc. Where better for them, so close to Motorway, rail, air and sea ports?”

    A good idea!

    I would like the Government to slap a £2000 surcharge on every transit imported from Turkey.
    This would not only ‘punish’ Ford (although in reality it would help to the extra benefit bills that will be incurred) bu tit would also boost British built vans like the Nissan Primastra,Renault Traffic and Vauxhall Movano – all of which are produced in Luton – by making them cheaper.

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