Video: Dagenham Ford tooling and stamping plant closes
- Credit: Archant
The Ford stamping and tooling plant, which has stood in Dagenham for almost 90 years, will close for good today.
A total of 750 employees have either taken voluntary redundancy, early retirement or been redeployed within the company.
The car giant announced the closure in October last year, claiming the move was necessary to cope with a 20 per cent drop in new vehicle demand across western Europe.
The Ford Transit Van factory in Southampton, which employs 531 people, will also close today.
The engine plant at Dagenham will remain open and a new £1.9 million powertrain tool room will be added. There are also plans to make a new next-generation, low-C02, 2.0-litre diesel engine range from 2016.
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Yesterday dozens of stamping and tooling plant workers gathered outside the Me’ An’ Obrien’s pub in Dagenham to say goodbye to colleagues and mark what many called “the end of an era”.
All expressed sadness at the death of the factory, which has stood in Dagenham since the 1920s (owned by Briggs Motor Bodies until the 1950s).
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But while some felt more efforts should have been made by Ford to keep the plant open, others – mainly the younger workers - said they understood why the decision to close it was made.
Mechanical maintenance worker Dev Sangha, 26, from Barking, told the Post: “If I was one of the people having to decide what to do I would probably have said shut it too. It makes financial sense, and at the end of the day that’s what you have to think about.”
Panel beater Richard Phillips, 43, from South Ockendon, however, said it should “not all be about money”.
“They should consider the loyalty of their staff – some have given 40 to 50 years of their life to Ford in Dagenham.
“But they just think about what’s cheapest – and that will mean opening factories in places like China and eastern Europe. It won’t be long before they’ve moved out of western Europe altogether.”
Although a number of people have accepted redundancy packages there has been some anger over the amounts offered.
In March members of Union Unite threatened to strike claiming workers at the Transit Van plant in Southampton were offered around £20,000 to £25,000 more than their counterparts in Dagenham.
One worker who took voluntary redundancy, Dagenham toolmaker Martin O’Meara, 53, said: “We didn’t get as good a deal as Southampton workers did. They said they were offered more because there are less job opportunities there but I don’t know if that’s actually the case.”
Industrial action, however, never went ahead. “I think people just felt it wouldn’t have made a difference” said Martin. “Also Ford said that if we took industrial action we would lose a bonus that had been offered to those who were affected by the closure.”
The future of the site is uncertain but Ford said they expected the area would be used for business purposes and not housing.
A spokesperson added: “Ford will hold detailed discussions with local authorities and other key stakeholders on the options for their marketing and re-use.”
Have you worked at the stamping and tooling plant? What are your views on the closure? Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.