Ford says to cut up to 440 jobs in Australia

MELBOURNE Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:49pm EDT

A worker waxes a car in a Ford automobile showroom in Manila June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

A worker waxes a car in a Ford automobile showroom in Manila June 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co's (F.N) Australian unit will announce plans later on Tuesday to cut up to 440 jobs at two production plants in Melbourne and nearby Geelong in Victoria state, a spokeswoman said.

The company was still talking with workers ahead of the announcement, she said.

Ford, which has more than 3,000 employees in Australia, in January secured more than A$34 million ($35 million)in funding from state and federal governments to guarantee local production until 2016.

Australian car manufacturers have enjoyed solid sales over the past year despite a subdued economy, although Ford's sales have lagged, according to the Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

Ford's market share slipped to fifth place or 7.9 percent for the year to June, compared with 9.1 percent a year earlier, the chamber's industry figures showed. Sales of its top model, the Falcon, have fallen sharply.

Ford trailed Toyota (7203.T), General Motors (GM.N) Holden unit, Mazda (MAZD.BO) and Hyundai (005380.KS).

Australian car makers have also lost market share as sales of imports have surged, aided by the strong Australian dollar. In April, Toyota Motor Corp cut 350 jobs from its manufacturing plant in Melbourne. ($1 = 0.9770 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Victoria Thieberger; Editing by Richard Pullin)