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Fri, Oct 17, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Ford announces job cuts in Australia to counter slow sales

VOLUNTARY BASIS The latest redundancies add up to about 10 percent of the company’s total workforce in its factories in southern Victoria state

AFP , MELBOURNE

Automaking giant Ford will slash 450 jobs in Australia as it battles falling sales and the global financial crisis, it announced yesterday, taking its total job cuts to 1,400 by 2010.

The job losses, which come as Australia’s economy slows and unemployment numbers rise, represent about 10 percent of the company’s workforce in its plants in the southern state of Victoria.

The latest redundancies will be on a voluntary basis and the company expects that enough employees will sign up for them by the end of the year, Ford Australia chief executive Marin Burela told a news conference.

‘PROACTIVE STEP’

“It’s absolutely critical that we take a proactive step, that we position ourselves for strength in terms of where we’re heading into 2009 and beyond,” Burela said.

“Clearly the economic conditions around the world and certainly some of the things we’re facing in Australia have had a severe impact on us as a business,” he said.

“We don’t take these steps and these actions lightly, but we are committed to working with our employees and our union partners to provide a smooth transition for our people as we move forward.”

Volatile exchange rates, oil prices and the global financial turmoil had all contributed to the decision, Burela said.

“There are many things that are happening around the world. We cannot control exchange rates and we cannot control things that happen externally,” he said, adding that what Ford Australia could control was its staff numbers.

The job cuts follow a strategic review amid a deterioration in the business in recent months are the “right thing to do” to position the company in the environment, he said.

Burela said the redundancies would cover all the company’s operations in Victoria state and would be equally spread between its Geelong and Broadmeadows plants, which together employ about 4,500 staff.

LOWER OUTPUT

The latest cuts came after Ford in August announced 350 jobs were to go from the factories next month, with plans to reduce output by up to a quarter, or about 18,000 cars a year.

In July last year, it announced it would cut 600 jobs by 2010 with the closure of the Geelong engine plant.

Union leaders said the new job losses raised questions about Ford’s continued production of big cars and said the cuts were bad news for the industry, including for parts suppliers.

“Today is disappointing to our members who work on the sites and for workers on the supply chain,” said Steve Dargavel, Victorian state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.

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