Unions and politicans are meeting in Paris to discuss the future of Fords Aquitaine Industries site near Bordeaux

Unions and politicans are meeting in Paris to discuss the future of Ford's Aquitaine Industries site near Bordeaux

Crunch talks are currently (2 March) underway in Paris between French Finance Minister, Bruno Le Maire, several unions and local politicians, as the future of Ford Aquitaine Industries and its 910 staff (FAI) continues to be a major doubt.

Ford's Blanquefort site near Bordeaux in South West France manufactures transmissions, but noises emanating from the US automaker regarding the "longer-term viability" of the factory have seen the Finance Minister urgently summon labour bodies and a raft of Bordeaux politicians to Paris.

Le Maire's concern comes at a challenging time for French automotive supplier manufacturing with the Bosch plant at Rodez near Toulouse also the subject of significant speculation, while Ford's statement sent to just-auto will have set alarm bells ringing.

"We have met with the FAI Works Council and informed them following the completion of an extensive formal study, the conclusion is it does not make sound business sense to introduce a new eight-speed transmission into FAI," said the Ford statement.

"As we have communicated before, Ford's activity at FAI is dependent on customer demand, but the current forecast is we have healthy volumes during the course of 2019.

"We are committed to seeking a solution for the longer-term viability of the site while securing employment opportunities. We want to work with our union partners, the regional authorities and the national government to explore any options, including exploring any potential third-party interest in the site."

Le Maire's hands-on approach to FAI – mirroring a similar stance for the Bosch factory in Rodez – has seen him urge Ford to work closely with unions and local authorities to guarantee the continuation of the plant and maintain long-term employment.

"The Minister recently met Ford Europe president, Steven Armstrong and asked him to keep enough work at the site until the end of 2019," said a statement from Le Maire's Finance Ministry in Paris.

"That should allow research into new activities for this factory at the heart of the Ford Group, or in connection with external partners. Bruno Le Maire reiterates for the purpose of the 910 staff concerned, his full support and his total commitment to a long-term solution."

Today's Paris meeting will see Le Maire meet unions, Bordeaux Mayor and former French Prime Minister, Alain Juppé, Gironde député, Benoit Simian, Gironde regional authority president, Jean-Luc Gleyze and Blanquefort Mayoress, Véronique Ferreira.