REFILE-UK Ford workers to be balloted over strike action

Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:29am EST

By Costas Pitas
    LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Britain's biggest union, Unite,
said on Monday it is to ballot 5,000 workers for strike action
at car manufacturer Ford in a row over job security and
pensions.
    Workers, mainly on the production line at Ford's six sites
across Britain, will be asked whether they want to down tools in
a bid to seek guarantees from the firm that there will be no
more plant closures and that jobs in Britain will be protected. 
    Last year, Ford closed its British van factory in
Southampton, southern England, and shuttered an associated
stamping facility in Dagenham, east London, ending its vehicle
manufacturing in Britain.
    The firm still employs nearly 15,000 people around the
country, who mainly build and develop engines, and supports a
further 100,000 jobs through its network of suppliers and
dealers, the company said on its website. 
    Unite national officer Roger Maddison said staff in Britain
had felt the brunt of previous closures and now wanted
safeguards. 
    "After successive rounds of job cuts including the closure
of the Southampton plant, staff now want Ford to make some
commitments to job security going forward," he said. 
    The union said it also wanted improvements to the pension
scheme which it said uses the consumer price index (CPI) rather
than the generally higher retail price index (RPI) for
inflation-linked increases to pension payments. 
    Roughly 300 staff represented by the GMB Union will also be
balloted with the vote due to close on Feb. 7, a spokesman said.
    In a statement, a Ford spokesman said it had a
long-established practice of negotiating with unions in Britain
and that further discussions with them were needed. 
    "In 2011, a two-year agreement was reached and we re-entered
discussions in 2013, recognising the priority for
industry-leading levels of cost, efficiency and
competitiveness," a spokesman said. 
    "This process has been completed for some employees but is
still under way between the company and unions for other areas
of the workforce."
    Unite said it would not comment on any possible strike dates
or how long action could last when asked by Reuters.
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