Regional politicians have reacted with fury to Fords decision to put its French site at Blanquefort up for sale

Regional politicians have reacted with fury to Ford's decision to put its French site at Blanquefort up for sale

Four regional political bodies have issued a joint statement strongly condemning Ford's decision to put its automatic transmissions plant near Bordeaux 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, propelling the issue up the political ladder.

In an unusual move, Conseil Régional de Nouvelle-Aquitaine, president, Alain Rousset, Conseil Départemental de la Gironde president, Jean-Luc Gleyze, Bordeaux Métropole president, Alain Juppé and Blanquefort Mayor, Véronique Ferreira, have collectively branded Ford's move as "incomprehensible."

Should the US automaker not secure a buyer for its 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.

"The factory has production tools and skills which address the latest requirements of the automotive industry," noted the four politicians. "These attributes, recognised by Ford, risk disappearing, while Ford has a candidate [unconfirmed] which could immediately ensure the continuity of the plant.

"This option taken by Ford offers absolutely no guarantee on the future takeover of FAI. It is motivated by purely financial arguments without taking into account the factory partners, among whom are the regional Councils and staff. Beyond these skills, the professional situation of more than 800 staff, with an average age of 51 and 27 years service with Ford, will be irredeemably impacted by this decision.

"This decision is unacceptable because it will destroy value in our region, which has nonetheless constantly supported Ford since its creation by investment help and public facilities. The Councils will be extremely vigilant concerning the search process and ask the State to bear with all its weight in these negotiations."

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 next year. In addition, as part of the benefits of the social plan, all of those still working at FAI by that date would see no reduction in their pay until the end of 2019.

Ford's move has also provoked fury among French unions, with the CFTC labour body urging a demonstration by FAI employees on 13 June outside the Préfecture de Bordeaux.

A statement from the CFTC said its call for a public demonstration of solidarity was to protest against Ford's decision: "To disengage from FAI, to launch a PSE [jobs safeguard plan] envisaging the total closure of FAI, which only leaves a weak hope of finding a potential buyer."

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