Ford workers want the company to invest EUR20m to streamline its Almussafes plant in Eastern Spain to ensure its survival after it stops building the current Ka city car in 2007.

"If this investment is not made soon, if we don't modernise our machinery, we won't be able to compete with Eastern Europe," workers' committee Chief Gonzalo Pino told just-auto.

Trade unions are pressing Ford management to guarantee that the Ka's loss - and any other assembly point relocations - will be compensated for by increased production of Focus and Fiesta models.

"We are negotiating and we expect to reach a deal by December," Pino said.

The shift of the redesigned Ka from Spain to Poland was announced on Monday (7 November) as part of a new Ford-Fiat collaborative deal to build small cars on Fiat's Panda platform.

The loss of the Ka from the Spanish Ford plant won't result in job cuts, but Almussafes' 7,600 workers are worried that Mazda could follow in Ford's footsteps by shifting the assembly of the 2 (Demio) to eastern Europe, Pino noted.

Mazda is expected to decide soon where it will build the 2's successor [for European markets], he added.

If Almussafes loses the Japanese model it will lose (along with the Ka) 25% of its daily production of 1,800 cars, Pino estimated.

A glimmer of hope for the factory is the possibility that Ford will decide to build the redesigned Fiesta in 2008 at Almussafes. Workers are also hopeful that the car maker will introduce new Focus variants in the future, Pino said.

However, "none of this will be possible if no new investments are made," he added.

Apart from its stalwart Focus model, Almussafes makes 500 Fiesta hatchbacks daily.

Ivan Castano