Ford workers in Southampton are understood to be offered a generous redundancy package or e job elsewhere with the company.

It is ubeleived that Ford will offer a generous redundancy package and redeployment to to thos workers among the 550 at the plant who want to stay with the company.

Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB union, said: ''This is devastating news for the workers in Southampton and Dagenham and is very bad news for UK manufacturing.

''Ford's track record in Britain is one of broken promises and factory closures. There will be a feeling of shock and anger, and Ford's commitment on investment will cut little ice.''

Ford yesterday unveiled plans to close its factory in Genk, Belgium, with the loss of 4,300 jobs and said more details of its ''transformation'' plan for Europe will be given today.

Stephen Odell, chairman and chief executive of Ford of Europe, said: ''The proposed restructuring of our European manufacturing operations is a fundamental part of our plan to strengthen Ford's business in Europe and to return to profitable growth.''

Mr Odell met union officials today to give them the news.

Ford employs around 11,400 workers in the UK at plants including Dagenham, Halewood on Merseyside and Bridgend in South Wales.