Bordeaux Mayor, Alain Juppé has expressed his "consternation" at Ford's decision to put its automatic transmissions plant at the Blanquefort site up for sale.

Ford Aquitaine Industries (FAI) is now seeking a buyer but should that process fail, around 900 jobs could go at the plant some six miles from Bordeaux in South West France.

The fallout has now extended to the political sphere, with Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire wading in to the debate, while Juppé, a former French Prime Minister and now Mayor of Bordeaux, has added his considerable weight to the situation.

A statement from Juppé's office said the Mayor had "learned with consternation" of Ford's move to launch a consultation process prior to a jobs safeguarding plan for FAI and while efforts to find a new buyer were still ongoing.

"I deeply deplore the brutality of such an announcement while there are still serious searches going on to preserve jobs," said Juppé. "Ford must assume its responsibilities and seek, as the law requires, a viable and guaranteed solution. The Group should guarantee to industrialists interested by a takeover of the site a sufficient order volume to ensure the best transition conditions.

"Staff representatives [unions] have made manufacturing suggestions for months, notably to supply the EcoSport. I have received assurances from Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire and from the Business Restructuring Delegation, Jean-Pierre Floris, the State will be particularly vigilant and demanding, with regard to Ford."

Should the US automaker not secure a buyer for its Ford Aquitaine Industries (FAI) site at Blanquefort near the city in South West France, the facility will close, although no forced redundancies will be implemented before September next year.

Ford has started talking to its Works Council at the plant and has established a taskforce liaising with an external company specialised in finding new business owners, to identify potential buyers.

"Ford is undertaking a number of actions to improve its fitness as a business globally," said Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Steven Armstrong. "Included in this was a review of our industrial operations in Bordeaux, France.

"It was determined the preferred option was to work to transition the FAI site to a third party that would receive incentives from Ford. A key consideration in the design of this idea was the care and concern for FAI's employees. In addition to financial compensation guarantees, the company will work to identify potential workforce transfers." 

FAI has presented a social plan which includes redeployment and early retirement programmes, together with measures to help staff relocate with new employers should no new owner be found and closure follows.

In such a situation, FAI also has committed not to implement any involuntary redundancies before September 2019. In addition, as part of the benefits of the social plan, all of those still working at FAI by September 2019 would see no reduction in their pay until the end of 2019.