Ford union members and local campaigners attended an emergency meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the best way to support workers at the Transit van plant in Swaythling which Ford have threatened to close next July.
At least 300 Eastleigh workers are employed at the plant and at the Ford garage and depot off Chickenhall lane – many more local support jobs are threatened by the closure which would suck around £8 million out of the local economy in lost wages alone.
The meeting was called by Southampton Trades Council and attracted support from Unite and RMT trade unionists as well as the National Shop Stewards Network and activists from both the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers party.
The meeting heard Andy Cox, the Deputy Convener at the plant insist that the Southampton plant was productive, profitable and deserved a long term future saying it was vital that the city fought to keep the Transit plant open.
The convener of the ‘Save the Transit’ campaign Kevin Hayes, a former Ford shop steward, described how in 2008 workers and their families had campaigned against Transit production jobs being off-shored to Turkey.
Rob Williams, another former Ford shop steward, warned Ford workers and pensioners about a ‘black hole’ in Fords UK pension fund which Ford plan to plunder in order to finance six figure redundancy pay offs by offering large lump sum pension payments on top of redundancy pay.
Darren Procter, Secretary of RMT Southampton Shipping and Executive Council member pledged the RMT would give its full support to a campaign to keep the plant open
A further public meeting is planned as well as a possible demonstration in Southampton and plans are also being made for Southampton Ford workers to travel to Belgium next weekend to join a demonstration with Ford workers in Genk who are also fighting massive job cuts there.
Bobby Noyes of Southampton Trades Council told Ford workers “We are with you every step in trying to save the Ford factory in Southampton” and promised to help “kickstart” the campaign to fight closure by organising a meeting with local MPs and the leader of Southampton City council.
Reacting to news that Ford had taken public money while off-shoring worker’s jobs Noyes added:
“The fact that the Government and the EU have given money to Ford’s which is being spent on the plant in Turkey is a disgrace. This money must come back to Southampton and Dagenham to retain the plants.”