Ford workers to be balloted on pensions strike

Ford Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Unite said Ford's factory workers want more reassurance about their job security

More than 5,000 Ford workers across the UK are being balloted by their Unite union on strike action about changes to pensions and job security.

The dispute follows Ford's cull of around 1,500 jobs after it closed some UK facilities in 2012, said Unite.

Ford said negotiations with its partner unions about pay, conditions and working practices were "underway" and it had "nothing further to add".

Unite said workers were "fed-up" as they were "always on the front line".

It said Ford's decision to link pension increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rather than "more representative" Retail Price Index (RPI) was also behind the action.

Workers 'angry'

Unite said Ford's hourly-paid workers were "calling on the company to commit to greater job security through a legally-binding information and consultation agreement".

Ford had "refused" to enter into a discussion about how to improve the company pension scheme after it announced the CPI linkage announced in 2010, Unite said.

Employees, who mostly work on production lines in Bridgend, Daventry, Halewood, Dunton and two sites in Dagenham are being targeted for action.

A spokesperson for Ford said: "The company has a long-established practice of negotiating the pay, conditions and working practices of employees with its partner unions in the UK."

They said an agreement between the company and unions had been reached in 2011.

But they said talks were started again in 2013 after "recognising the priority for industry-leading levels of cost, efficiency and competitiveness".

'Not unreasonable'

Discussions were still underway between the company and unions for "other areas of the workforce", but there was "nothing further to add regarding these negotiations", the spokesperson said.

Roger Maddison, national officer at Unite, said Ford's workers were "always on the front line" when the company wanted to make cuts.

He said Ford's staff now wanted it to make some commitments to job security after the closure of the Southampton plant in 2012.

Mr Maddison added: "This is not an unreasonable request but the company is refusing to give its loyal UK workforce and their families some well-deserved rights in line with their EU counterparts.

"Workers are also angry that the company is refusing to look at ways to improve the pension scheme."

He said the staff felt they had "no choice" and were balloting for strike action to "get the company back around the negotiating table".

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