* Ford plans to cut $400 mln on Fiesta production in 2017-21
* Ford to hire 500 engineers at Cologne development centre
* Accord with staff rules out German dismissals through 2021
By Andreas Cremer
BERLIN, June 10 Ford Motor Co will keep
production of the Fiesta, its top-selling European car, in
high-wage Germany after agreeing with workers to cut assembly
costs as it looks to end years of losses on its European
The U.S. carmaker said on Tuesday management and workers had
agreed to scrap costly night shifts, increase flexibility on
working hours and reassign work from suppliers to Ford,
delivering total savings it estimated at $400 million between
2017 and 2021.
Ford is eyeing European profits in 2015 and hopes the
measures applying to the plant in Cologne, where the Fiesta
hatchback is made, will help it stay lastingly profitable,
having been loss-making since 2011.
"The agreement will make the plant more cost efficient,
ensuring that next-generation Fiesta production will be globally
competitive," Ford said in a statement.
The company will also hire about 500 engineers at its
development center in Cologne, one of two German factories,
which employs about 4,100 staff.
The brand is launching at least 25 new or upgraded vehicles
between 2012 and 2017, including the EcoSport compact SUV and
the larger Edge model, and is pushing upmarket with high-end
versions of existing models.
The agreement published on Tuesday ends months of
uncertainty for staff in Germany. Media had reported that Ford
may relocate production of the new Fiesta to low-cost Romania,
where 3,600 workers already produce the B-Max model at a plant
"We absolutely looked at other plants," Barb Samardzich,
chief operating officer at Ford's European division, said on a
Labour costs in German manufacturing industry were an hourly
36.98 euros per worker in 2012, compared with 29.56 euros in
Japan, 25.87 euros in the United States and 3.78 euros in
Romania, according to the Cologne-based IW economic institute.
Ford closed two smaller manufacturing operations in Britain
in 2013 and plans to shut its Genk, Belgium, assembly plant at
the end of this year, cutting about 5,700 jobs in total.
(Editing by David Holmes)