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Retired Ford staff from Southampton in pensions protest at Dagenham
UP to 100 retired Ford workers are due to descend on the firm’s UK headquarters and European base over plans to cut pensions.
The former staff will come from plants across the country, including a delegation of between 30 and 40 from Southampton.
Ex-workers aim to show the motor giant how strongly they feel about proposals to change the way pension inflation is calculated – they claim it would cost them hundreds of pounds.
A controversial move to switch to using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as opposed to the higher Retail Prices Index (RPI) sparked a bitter row last month.
The protest at Warley, in Essex, has been timed to coincide with a meeting between Unite union leaders and Ford bosses.
Unite boss Ian Woodland said: “We don’t know what’s on the agenda but we would hope the show of feeling would prompt the company to work with us in moving forward with this issue.”
Workers are currently due to vote on industrial action.
If no resolution is found the 550 staff at the Swaythling factory could be part of a national strike that would see 11,000 workers downing tools in Dagenham in Essex, Bridgend in South Wales, Halewood on Merseyside, Daventry in Northamptonshire and Dunton in Essex.
It would be the first strike of its kind since the 70s.
A retired Ford worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Nothing surprises me about the company any more.
“We are not asking for anything other than what we were promised.
“This protest is not just for us it is for the people who still work and their futures.”
A Ford spokesman said: “In July 2010 the Government announced that the CPI rather than the RPI provides a more appropriate measure of pension recipients’ inflation experience.
“Our view remains that Ford’s final salary pension provisions stand comparison with the best pension arrangements in the UK private sector and the company continues to meet the significant cost of providing the promised level of pension benefits set out in the rules of the fund.”
The Southampton Ford plant was a hive of union activity and walkouts two years ago when the Daily Echo exclusively published a leaked memo that revealed 500 jobs were to be slashed, output levels cut and production of the Transit van exported to Turkey.
The Transit is due to leave Southampton next year when the plant will switch to solely making chassis cabs.