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Instead one should electric machine-The platform – also called “architecture” – is under construction in Valencia, Spain, as announced Wednesday by the group. There is “the best positioned plant” to produce vehicles based on an electric architecture, according to the company.
The decision hits 4,600 Ford employees in the Saarland hard. As production of automobiles at the site is only ensured until mid-2025, production of the Ford Focus combustion model will be phased out. From then on, the tapes stay put, unless Ford puts more plans on the table, after all.
The workforce had hoped that jobs would be amply secured even after 2025 thanks to investments in electronics. Management’s decision now destroys this hope. Harsh criticism came from employee representatives and politicians.
Saarland Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger and Economy Minister Jrgen Barke (both SPDs) described the decision as a “farce”. One gets the impression that the internal bidding process has never been fair. Indeed, Saarlouis is “clearly ahead” of Valencia. The fact that the workforce of both venues was played against each other during the bidding process is “shabby”. The state government will fight for the job.
Federal Minister of Economy Robert Habeck (Green Party) urged Ford to “promptly make concrete plans for the future of the Saarlouis plant”. As plant owner, employer and a major German carmaker, Europe’s largest car market, the group has a special responsibility, said Habeck.
Markus Thal, chairman of the works council at the Saarlouis office, said: “We have been lied to, cheated and made fun of. For three years we have been thrown into a wall.” In a first statement, the works councils spoke of a “framed game” and a “fictitious procedure”. They fought, they were the clear winners in the tender and are now being robbed of their success. The chairman of the general works council in Germany, Benjamin Gruschka, described Ford’s decision as a “complete failure of the European headquarters”. According to the works councils, the location decision was obvious from the start.
After the fundamental decision of the management, the restructuring is now pending in Valencia. The investment amount and the specific car model will be determined later. The future looks bleak in Saarlouis. There is a risk of closure or sale, the Gruschka works council said ahead of Focus’s end of production in 2025.
Ford of Europe chief Stuart Rowley told dpa that the decision in favor of Spain was not a decision to close the Saarlouis site. “We are now trying to find ways to give a future to as many affected workers as possible.” From a technical and strategic point of view, the two locations were on par, but from a financial point of view, Valencia had the advantage.
Asked if Saarlouis still had a future in the Ford group after 2025, Rowley said a task force would now be established and how to proceed with employee representatives and the Saarland state government would be discussed. See the opportunities inside and outside Ford. It wasn’t specific anymore. Regarding the allegation that the decision-making process was unfair, Rowley said: “That is not correct: we have invested a lot of time over six months to consult with decision makers in both locations.”
The works council no longer believes in Ford’s corresponding offerings. “These are tranquilizers, we have enough of them,” said employee representative Thal. “You can take them all with you and introduce them to the others.” Now you need to see what legal options there are under the collective agreement.
Ford is in transition. In the age of electromobility, the US automaker initially lagged behind its competitors and seemed to have ignored the signs of the times. In the meantime, however, Ford is investing heavily in electromobility so that it can continue to compete in the future. The European headquarters in Cologne plays an important role in the plans of the Americans, the group wants to invest a total of two billion US dollars there in the coming years and produce electric cars, with the start of production scheduled for the end of 2023.
Ford has approximately 15,000 employees in the cathedral city. There, the planned Stromer is based on VW’s electric platform (Volkswagen (VW) vz). Ford wants to install its own platform in Valencia to build other electric models. It’s unclear when the first Ford Stromers will roll off the assembly line there – “later in the decade,” he says vaguely.
Industry experts have little hope for the continued existence of the Ford plant in Saarlouis. For Saarlouis to be involved in electric manufacturing, Ford is expected to experience a boom in electric vehicle sales in the coming years, said Stefan Bratzel of Bergisch Gladbach University of Applied Sciences. “But this is by no means in sight: in terms of quantity, the places where investments have been made so far should be sufficient.”
IG Metall on Ford decision: ‘unworthy’ tender
The IG Metall industrial union and the Ford works council do not want to accept the decision of the Ford management against the Saarlouis site. “The metalworkers will use all means to defend themselves against the liquidation of the Ford site,” said Jrg Khlinger, head of the IG Metall district in the middle, on Wednesday. If management doesn’t give up, Ford will face “resistance from a whole state,” he said.
The union spoke of “an unworthy and brutal bidding race between the Ford offices in Valencia and Saarlouis”. The Saarlouis site, with its current 4,600 employees, will be “treated piecemeal”. Together with the supplier base, around 6,600 jobs are threatened in the Saarland. Ford announced Wednesday that it has chosen Valencia in Spain as the location for the production of new electric cars, and therefore not Saarlouis.
IG Metall and the Ford works council called for future prospects for the Ford headquarters in Saarlouis and called for a fight to secure the position and jobs. “With no prospects for Saarlouis, we will not accept the group’s decision,” said IG Metall Vlklingen CEO Lars Desgranges.
Khlinger said employees have done everything they can to keep Ford’s Saarlouis facility competitive for the past three years. They would also have accepted the reduced work, reduced shifts and downsizing. “Instead of working with the workforce to protect the position, management has put their hands on their lap. Now an entire region is threatened with being sidelined.”
According to Ford Works Council Chairman Markus Thal, more than 2,500 jobs have been cut since 2018 in Saarlouis. “We have kept, the management has made empty promises to us. We feel deceived and betrayed by the Ford Europe management!”
Ford stock ended up trading on the NYSE marginal 0.09 percent up to $ 11.48.
SAARLOUIS / Berlin (dpa-AFX)
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