Car giant Ford is reportedly planning to shed about 2,000 jobs at its biggest UK plant in Dagenham.
The plant, which makes the Ford Fiesta, employs about 8,000 workers. Its future has been in doubt for some time.

Ford said earlier this year it was cutting 1,300 jobs at the plant.

Car assembly is expected to be phased out by the end of next year, with the plant focusing on engine production and other manufacturing work.

Ford declined to comment on the reports.

Friday meeting

"We can confirm there is a meeting arranged between unions and the company on Friday. However, we can give no further details at this stage," a spokesman said.

The report comes as a former vice-president of Ford Europe predicted that the American auto giant would shut its assembly plant at Dagenham.

Karl Ludvigsen said Ford was having a difficult time in Europe, with dwindling profits.

"Ford wants to cease production at one of its five assembly plants and I think the Dagenham plant is probably the one they are looking at," Mr Ludvigsen said on GMTV.

Union officials declined to comment on the reported job cuts before Friday's official announcement, saying they were waiting for details from the company.

Sir Ken Jackson, general secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, said that, if true, Ford would "have broken the commitment they made to us guaranteeing car production at Dagenham."

Voluntary redundancies

Ford, which employs 26,000 people in the UK, is reportedly planning to offer voluntary redundancies at its other UK plants to avoid compulsory lay-offs, according to the Press Association.

Workers will be offered redundancy payments of up to £40,000.

Ford has been mulling potential cutbacks in its European operations for several weeks to cut overcapacity.

The end of car production at the Dagenham plant would come as a major blow to the UK car industry in the wake of Rover's rescue by the Phoenix consortium.