A NEW row has broken out over payouts for workers hit by the closure of Southampton’s Ford plant.

Truckers who work for the motoring manufacturer claim they are in line to get almost £27,000 less than their co-workers at the Swaythling plant, due to shut next summer.

The Daily Echo has been told that there are more than 35 drivers and administration staff based at the Ford depot in Barton Park, Eastleigh, who are set to lose out on lucrative payments promised to other staff.

According to unions, the company has told them that they are not entitled to the payouts because they have been offered redeployment elsewhere – including to operations at Southampton docks.

But one worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said drivers had been kept in the dark about where they could be moved to and redundancy arrangements were an “utter shambles”.

He added: “It’s been six weeks since they announced the closure and we still don’t know what the hell’s going on. We’re pretty up in arms about it.

“There are probably 31 drivers and five clerks based at Barton Park and none of us will get these payments.

“A lot of us have been here 35 or 40 years. Everybody else in the plant is set to get thousands more than we will, even though they may only have five or six years of service.

“There’s no way they’re going to be able to redeploy 31 drivers at the docks. They have said we could be redeployed but haven’t said where. We’re in limbo and time is getting on. It’s an utter shambles. Nobody is telling us anything.”

The Unite union, which represents workers at Ford, says it is aware of the discrepancy between payouts for plant workers and HGV drivers.

The union says it breaks down into an £18,000 “continuity”

payment, which will be paid on the condition that workers do not take industrial action, and a £8,600 “special payment” for breaching employees’ contracts.

Truckers are not set to see either payment in their redundancy packages.

Unite regional officer Fred Hanna said: “Discussions are still ongoing for both of the packages and these issues will be brought up.

“As far as I’m concerned it would be ideal if they were offered the same and the company is aware of that.

“We’re hoping for the best deal for everybody.”

The Daily Echo has previously reported that more than 200 employees of Penske Logistics who work at the Swaythling plant, which makes the iconic Transit van, are not set to get the generous payouts promised to Ford staff.

Contractors said they felt “insulted” after being told they will get about six weeks’ pay and statutory redundancy – compared to pay outs of up to £93,000 for their Ford colleagues.

Ford said it was not able to comment on the differences in redundancy payouts.

A spokesman said: “From our point of view, the consultation we’re currently having is confidential so we can’t make any comment.”

For all the latest news and background on the Ford saga click here