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by Matt Brogan

Ford is cutting 850 jobs in the UK and delaying the launch of its new Transit in an attempt to save cash during the deepening economic crisis.

The company said it would cut up to 500 jobs at its production plant in Southampton, which builds the current Transit, and a further 350 jobs across other UK sites between now and May.

Ford employs a total of 12,900 people in the UK alone and has also set plans to cut roughly 350 casual jobs at the Dunton Technical Centre in Essex, where design work is carried out on the new Transit. The Transit was due launch in 2011 but has been postponed to an unspecified date.

“As demand across the industry continues to fall, we are facing some immediate and major challenges which require us to take decisive action to reduce all our costs,” said John Fleming, Ford of Europe chairman. Those companies which act quickly in taking the right decisions will be those who not only survive but who emerge strongest from this deep recession.”

Ford workers threatened to strike over the plan.

Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of the Unite trade union, said “These proposals are completely unacceptable and a betrayal of Ford’s loyal U.K. workforce.”

Ford of Europe spokesman Tom Malcolm said the company is discussing cost reductions at its other European sites but had made no decisions.




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