Attention to United Kingdom industrial relations has this week been focused on a threatened eight-day national firefighters’ strike so the Tuesday deal between Ford and union leaders representing thousands of workers attracted relatively little notice.

According to a variety of reports, Ford and its unions amicably agreed a new deal that boosts pay by over 7% over the next two years, improves pensions (at a time some companies are withdrawing them) and offers better maternity and paternity payments.

The reports say that Ford already leading the industry with 40 weeks paid maternity leave, well above the statutory level, would now increase that to 52 weeks.

The deputy general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union Tony Woodley acknowledged that Ford was clearly signalling that it wanted to keep and improve its pension plan and said the union would not hesitate to recommending the above-inflation offer to workers.

The deal increases wages by 4% in the next year and piles on a second increase of 3%, or the rate of inflation plus 0.5%, whichever is higher, in the second year, amounting to what Woodley said was 7.2%.

Ford no longer builds cars in the UK but the agreement covers workers at plants across the country, including the Southampton Transit van factory, Dagenham diesel engine centre and Bridgend petrol engine plant plus Visteon components factory staff in Belfast, Swansea, Basildon and Enfield.

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