UK: Belgian industrial troubles halt Southampton Transit van production - paper

By just-auto.com editorial team | 20 October 2003

Ford has on been forced to stop production of its Transit vans in Southampton after disruption at its factory in Belgium left it without essential parts, the Financial Times (FT) said on Friday, adding that the 1,603 workers at the factory have been sent on training courses for an indefinite period.

The FT said Ford of Europe, which lost $US25 million in the third quarter, said workers at its Genk factory in Belgium were preventing vital metal panels from being shipped to Southampton. "We don't see any effect on other factories any time soon" Ford spokesman Neil Golightly told the paper, adding: "at the moment it is only Southampton." He said the company was hopeful of restarting work at Southampton, where the popular Transit van is made, soon, the FT added.

Golightly reportedly said discussions with the unions in Belgium were "progressing" and formal talks on the 3,000 planned lay-offs should begin soon. He also told the Financial Times that Mondeo cars were being allowed to leave the factory in Genk which was a sign of progress.

The FT noted that Ford's European business has been in deep trouble this year after the fierce price war and weak demand forced it to announce further job losses. In addition to the job losses in Genk, 1,700 early retirements are planned in Germany and 500 in the UK, the paper added.