MORE than 100 jobs look set to be saved from Southampton’s doomed Ford factory when it closes this summer, the Daily Echo can reveal today.
Union leaders claim they have been told by company bosses that while the Swaythling plant will close in July, they are offering to keep 120 jobs in Southampton.
The news comes after a ballot held at the factory saw more than 339 workers vote in favour of the closure and the severance package that comes with it, with 100 voting against.
The Unite union, which has been left disappointed by the results, fears that the 120 jobs will not be enough and is urging Ford bosses to double that figure if they are genuine about avoiding compulsory redundancies.
On Monday a mass meeting was held at the plant, where workers were informed of the package Ford was offering to those who lost their jobs – for some it would be in the region of £50,000, for others more than £100,000.
A ballot was held on Tuesday and the results yesterday revealed that the majority were in favour of the proposals.
However, Unite believes that at least 100 of those who voted to accept the closure would not be willing to take voluntary redundancy and would be applying for the 120 jobs, along with the 100 who voted against.
Fred Hanna, from Unite, said: “We would have preferred our members to have rejected the offer but we know they have to be realistic and understand how this impacts on the lives of every individual.
“We are disappointed that we are losing this plant in Southampton but what is not a lost cause is the possibility of more jobs that Ford can offer these workers.
“The big issue now is the company have said they are offering for 120 to remain in Southampton but if they do not want to make any compulsory redundancies then they will have to double that figure and we are working hard to put pressure on them to create as many jobs as possible.”
It is understood that the majority of jobs will be based at a site opposite the current plant, re-working company cars ready for re-sale.
This comes three months after Ford revealed plans for a refurbishment facility which was expected to be based at Southampton Docks, creating 50 jobs.
Ford would not confirm to the Daily Echo that 120 jobs would remain in the city, saying that discussions with the unions were confidential.
It did confirm however that the company’s aim is to make sure that any employees not wishing to take voluntary redundancy can be deployed elsewhere.
Brian Bennett, spokesman for Ford UK, said: “The result of the ballot enables us to progress to the next stage of employee support actions ahead of the plant’s closure in July 2013.”