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Instead one should electric machineplatform in Valencia, Spain, as announced Wednesday by the group. There is “the best positioned plant” to produce vehicles based on an electric architecture, Ford said.
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.
Employees spontaneously vented their protest after a business meeting: after the business meeting, some 3,000 attendees took to the streets and marched in a long procession to a rally on the B51 – including employees of supplier companies, steel workers and politicians. The state parliament had stopped its session and was in place with cabinet members and parliamentarians.
Many attendees had tears in their eyes, but outrage prevailed. IG Metall Vlklingen’s Lars Desgranges said he only had four words for how management behaved: “Speech, lies, delaying tactics, failure.” But you won’t give up: “It’s not a funeral, it’s a declaration of war.” Ford Works Council Chairman Markus Thal said: “We have been lied to, cheated and made fun of.”
The workforce had hoped that thanks to investments in electronics, jobs would still be largely safe after 2025. Since the end of 2018, among other things, 2,500 jobs have been cut, Thal said. . “Because we listened to the management. Because we trusted,” he said. “We delivered!” The only one who didn’t deliver was the management – “except the shareholders”.
There was also sharp criticism from politicians. Saarland Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger and Economy Minister Jürgen 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”. “It’s scandalous, you don’t treat employees like that,” Rehlinger said at the rally.
According to Rehlinger, it was “in itself an unworthy process to send employees down the runway and say, now show what you have to offer so you can keep your job.” However, if it doesn’t matter at all what you offer and it was just a sham procedure to justify an earlier decision later on, “then you have discredited yourself as a manager”.
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 major carmaker, the group has a special responsibility in Germany, the largest automotive market in Europe.
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 be established and further actions discussed with employee representatives and the state government. 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 the corresponding Ford offers: “These are tranquilizers, we have enough of them,” said Thal. 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 intended Stromer is based on Volkswagen’s (VW) electric platform. 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.
In the direction of colleagues from Valencia, who, according to Desgranges, were swindled like those from Saarlouis, the trade unionist launched an appeal: “As soon as the investments are with you, as soon as the systems are set up: take your pay, pay back your wages, recover your standard of living, regain your dignity and show this Ford company how powerful unions can be. “
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!”
The Saar state parliament holds a special session after Ford’s decision
The Saarland state parliament will meet for a special session on Thursday (13:00). The reason for this is the decision of the US carmaker Ford against the Saarlouis plant as a production site for electric cars. Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger (SPD) announced a government statement.
Ford Group announced Wednesday that it has chosen Valencia, Spain as the location for an electric car platform to build new models, and not Saarlouis. The decision is tough for the 4,600 Ford employees plus approximately 2,000 employees of the local supplier companies in Saarlouis.
Production of automobiles at the site is only ensured until 2025, when production of the Ford Focus combustion model will be phased out. What the future of the Ford plant will be is uncertain. Ford is one of the largest employers in the Saarland.
The state government had described Ford’s decision against the Saarlouis location as a “farce” and announced that he would fight for the job. Industrial union IG Metall and Ford works council want to defend themselves against the liquidation of the site and are calling for a fight to secure the site and jobs.
The trade association Autoregion spoke of a “hard blow” for the automobile country of the Saar. At the same time he warned of “a structural political panic” in the future. “We now have to calmly think of alternatives as to what should happen to this location starting in 2026,” said CEO Armin Gehl.
Ford stock ended up trading on the NYSE marginal 0.09 percent up to $ 11.48.
SAARLOUIS / Berlin (dpa-AFX)
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