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Unions call for Southampton Ford staff to join European fight against cuts
7:26am Monday 12th November 2012 in News
Last month the car giant announced it was closing sites across Europe including Southampton’s Swaythling plant, with the loss of 500 jobs, and a factory in Genk, Belgium, which employs 4,300.
Yesterday more than 20,000 marched through the Belgian city against the cuts and while they were joined by representatives from Ford plants across Europe there was no one from Southampton.
Socialist ABVV union organiser at the Genk plant, William de Witte called on Transit workers from Southampton to join future demonstrations.
The 64-year-old said: “Everyone is angry. Ford said five times they wouldn’t close the plant, and then when they announced it they weren’t even there. We no longer believe what they say.”
Belgian MP and part-time Ford worker Meryame Kitir, 32, said staff in Genk were still in shock at the announcement.
She added: “They really don’t understand why this has happened. They have done everything Ford has asked of them and agreed a 12 per cent wage cut to secure their jobs to 2020. They feel betrayed.
“I want to give Southampton workers my solidarity. Europe has to stand up for these people.”
Meanwhile worker Antony Phoenix, 51, an assembly worker, has worked at the factory for 20 years after moving to Belgium from Wrexham and becoming a citizen.
He said ford had reneged on a series of guarnatees given to unions about future production at Genk and called ford's European chief Stephen Odell a "coward" for failing to come to factory to explain the closure.
He said: “I don’t understand why the British continue to buy Ford cars when they treat their workers like something that can be trod on.
“All the Ford factories should get together throughout Europe.”