Ford Dagenham staff join 24-hour strike over pensions

Workers at Ford Dagenham joined a 24-hour national strike in a bitter row over pay and pensions.

Members of Unite and GMB took part in the stoppage at the factory in Chequers Lane on Monday to protest at plans to close a final salary pension scheme to new starters and introduce lower rates of pay.

Unite has about 1,200 members at Dagenham but the car giant said changes concerned white collar staff and production had not been affected.

The union has accused Ford of trying to create a “two-tier workforce” with significantly lower pay for new staff and no mechanisms for career progression.

Unite also fears the car maker may ultimately close the final pension scheme for all workers.

National officer Roger Maddison said: “Our staff members will not stand by and allow Ford to create a two-tier workforce on pay and pensions. To date, Ford has failed to make any genuine attempts to resolve this dispute.

“We fiercely oppose the closure of Ford’s final salary scheme to new entrants because we believe ultimately Ford will try to close the entire scheme.”

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Staff voted by 67 per cent on a 100 per cent turnout for strike action on May 22, but the union agreed to postpone announcing the ballot result to the public to allow further negotiations with the company to take place.

Sites affected by the strike also included the Ford headquarters in Warley, Brentwood, Bridgend in South Wales, Halewood on Merseyside and Southampton.

A Ford spokesman said: “The issue giving rise to the industrial action relates to a disagreement between the company and a particular group of its employees in relation to their ongoing pay and benefit negotiations.

“Ford remains willing and available to continue discussions with the union representing these workers.

“The vast majority of the company’s employees are not involved in this disagreement, or the decision to take industrial action.”

Unite had yet to make announcements on further stoppages at the time of going to press.