Union officials are meeting Ford car bosses in London today (Thursday 22/6/00) to avert widespread disruption over Ford`s decision to end car production at Dagenham in 2002.

Workers at the Essex site are to be balloted on strike action in August unless Ford reverses its decision to close the complex, said employees` leaders.

The meeting, expected to be lobbied by around 1,000 Ford workers bussed from around the country, hopes to avoid a walkout from Dagenham and avert job losses.

According to Tony Woodley, Chief Negotiator for the Transport and General Workers` Union, a walkout at Dagenham would halt European production, as the Essex site supplies vital components to the Continent.

Mr Woodley calculates that the decision to halt production of the Fiesta model at Dagenham, would lead to the loss of 3,500 jobs, with a further 40,000 losses expected in Southern England amongst Ford employees and suppliers.

Other facilities at risk, according to Union officials, would include the Dunton Research Centre, with 3,700 jobs, the diesel engine plant at Dagenham, with 2,700 employees, the Croydon and Enfield components plant, employing 950 workers, and the Basildon radiator site, with 600 workers based there.