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Ford Australia saves more than 100 jobs

Welcome news: Most of the spared workers will be offered roles in product development, but around 20 are likely to move to Ford Performance Vehicles when it moves in-house early next year.

More than 100 ‘at-risk’ staff spared as Ford Australia bolsters product development

15 Oct 2012

FORD Australia will spare around 25 per cent of the workers due to be cut from its local operations in November, after creating more than 100 new jobs in product development and its Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) division, which officially goes in-house from January 1.

The company announced in July it would shed 440 staff from its Broadmeadows and Geelong facilities near the end of the year, shortly after it cuts vehicle output by 30 per cent in response to the continuing decline of its staple car – the Falcon sedan.

But, despite the welcome news, Ford will still need to lay-off more than 200 people after only 118 staff at its Victorian operations accepted voluntary redundancy. The call for voluntary redundancies was finalised last week and was in effect from mid-September.

Both the 118 voluntary and 212 involuntary retrenchments will come into effect in the weeks immediately following the “downgrade” of the Broadmeadows manufacturing plant – which produces the Falcon, Falcon Ute and the popular Territory SUV – on November 7.

Ford Australia public affairs director Sinead Phipps told GoAuto that many of the workers saved would be offered trade roles in product development, the department responsible for the design, engineering and capability testing of vehicles for both Australia and overseas markets.

 center imageFrom top: Ford production at Broadmeadows Ford Design Centre.

The Blue Oval’s local arm has previously designed and engineered global vehicles such as the Figo light car and Ranger ute, and has previously confirmed that it has more in the works, including at least one new model based on the T6 Ranger platform – tipped to be a hardcore SUV.

As we have reported, the company unveiled its redeveloped research and design facility in August this year – one of just three of its kind alongside Ford’s other facilities in Cologne and Detroit – as a hub for the Asia/Pacific region.

“As product development has been expanding, we’ve found some opportunities there,” said Ms Phipps.

“I can’t give you specific roles because we need to talk to the various individuals about them, but there are trade-qualified people we’ve found roles for in product development.

“It may not just be people on the (manufacturing) line, it could be trades like electricians and other things as well. It’s great for the company, but it’s even better for the people involved, so we’re very pleased about that component.”

Ms Phipps said around 20 staff would be redeployed to FPV after Prodrive signed a memorandum of understanding with Ford Australia to sell its 51 per cent share of the company to the factory.

The deal is expected to be finalised by Christmas, with new FPV models likely to start running down the Broadmeadows production line from around February.

As part of the change of ownership, nearly all existing FPV staff – around 32 in total – will also be retrenched.

Ms Phipps said today’s announcement was “tempered”, because it has been many years since Ford Australia has been forced to sack workers involuntarily. Previous reductions to the workforce had come via voluntary programs.

“I’ve been at Ford 13 years and I don’t think we’ve done one in that time. Anything we’ve done before we’ve been able to achieve voluntarily.

“That part has been very difficult for everybody, none more so than the actual people who will end up leaving the company who would prefer to stay.”

According to Ms Phipps, the timing of laying off around 330 staff after production is cut will mean “a period of time where there will be too many people in the plant because we’ve got to make sure that the actual production part happens without quality issues and all that kind of stuff”.

“A week or so later we’ll work through which roles we actually still need, and then we’ll let them go.”

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