Ford urged to follow example set by Sanofi in Dagenham

Ford has been urged to look at the example set by Sanofi in its exit from Dagenham.

The comment, made by Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas, follows the motor giant’s recent announcement that it will close its stamping and tooling plants in Chequers Lane next year, with the loss of 750 staff.

Pharmaceutical company Sanofi’s manufacturing plant, which makes life-saving oncology drugs adjacent to the Ford Motor Plant, will also close next year, affecting 450 workers.

Speaking during a House of Commons debate on November 6, Mr Cruddas said: “I urge Ford to investigate how Sanofi has dealt with its exit from my constituency over the last couple of years.”

And last week Mr Cruddas met with chairman of Ford Britain, Joe Greenwell, to talk about his constituents’ concerns over job losses.

He said: “I will be having further meetings with the executives over the future of the land, support and re-deployment for the workers.”

Unite is planning to hold a mass meeting with its members to discuss ways to avert the job losses but a date for that has not yet been set.

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Since announcing the closure of its Dagenham plant in 2009, Sanofi has begun a legacy project under the new brand “businesseast”, which is aimed at attracting firms to the area to transform it into a business, science and retail hub, which could create up to 2,500 jobs.

Sainsbury’s has already signed a deal to buy ten acres of the 108-acre site to build a supermarket and petrol station, which will create around 400 new jobs, and negotiations with an international IT company interested in developing a technology centre are under way.

Sanofi’s Dagenham site leader Jim Moretta said: “Retention of the skills-base on this site and the fantastic science facilities here are still a key priority for us.”

A Ford spokesman said the comparison with Sanofi “isn’t valid” as Ford is “continuing to invest in the site”.

He added: “What’s happening at Ford is completely different. We’ve also announced investment in new low CO2 diesel engine production at Dagenham and obviously that’s a key signifier to the fact that we see Dagenham at an important site.”