The UAW has announced that Ford will offer buyout packages of up to US$140,000 to all of the more than 75,000 workers at its US plants. The news came ahead of a Ford announcement on the acceleration of its North American turnaround plan 'Way Forward'.

The buyout package for hourly workers is modelled on as similar buyout package the UAW agreed with GM. The UAW said the buyout packages, which include early retirement incentives, were also being extended to union-represented workers at Automotive Components Holdings, a group of factories formerly owned by Visteon Corp., Ford's former parts unit.

"Once again, our members are stepping up to make hard choices under difficult circumstances," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "Now, it's Ford Motor Company's responsibility to lead this company in a positive direction - which means using the skills, experience and dedication to quality that UAW members demonstrate every day in order to deliver quality vehicles to customers."

Ford had taken a cautious, plant-by-plant approach to its attempt to cut workers, but had met with more limited success than GM. GM had just under 35,000 workers accept its buyout offers.

The buyout offer has increased the expectation that Ford will announce more plant closings later on Friday (September 15), when it will announce the next phase of its restructuring programme - likely to include plant closures and a planned further reduction in Ford's white-collar workforce. 

It also emerged on Thursday that one of the architects of 'Way Forward', Ford COO for The Americas, Anne Stevens, has decided to retire.