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Ford likely to end saga of Dagenham

Rival carmakers believe Ford's 1,500 job cuts at Dagenham are the first phase of a plan that will lead to the eventual closure of the east London plant.

Ian McAllister, Ford of Britain chairman, would go no further than saying the company could not guarantee the future of the sprawling factory.

Ford of Europe chairman Nick Scheele has expressed a determination to address the problem of industry over-capacity in Europe. His aim is to raise market share from 9.1% to 10%, equating to around 1.7m units a year.

“At that share, our fixed costs are just too high and we are addressing this,” said the former Jaguar chairman in a message to employees.

“Our profits in Europe are out of line with Ford globally. It is too early to say precisely what we are going to do, but we are evolving a plan that will enable us to grow with new technology and products that consumers want.”

Mr Scheele told Ford of Europe colleagues he did not expect market conditions to change dramatically until the problem of overall capacity in Europe changed, which he did not not think likely in the short term.

With Halewood converting to Jaguar production this year, closure of Dagenham would leave Ford without a UK car plant.

Many employees are said to be eager to take a Dagenham redundancy package that is described as “generous” by unions. White-collar staff put a series of strikes on hold over equality with production workers after progress in talks with Ford.

This may not be enough to save Dagenham, where racial disputes last year made the plant an embarrassment to Ford.

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