Strikes started on August 1 in protest at wage cuts and compulsory redundancies. The action has affected Ansa’s operations at Dagenham, Southampton, Liverpool and Moss End in Scotland. It involves 350 drivers, fitters and support staff.
The Transport and General Workers Union believes delivery of new vehicles will be badly affected by the action.
Ford dealers are monitoring the situation closely, but have mixed views about its impact.
“There are cars we have on factory order that are due to go out in September which could be affected. But the majority of customers who we have contacted to say there may be a delay have been fine with it,” says Andrew Boswell, sales manager at TC Harrison in Huntingdon.
“It all depends how long it goes on for. The real problem will be if we’re unable to meet our registration targets and miss out on our bonuses as a result. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.”
Some Ford dealer groups, such as East-Anglia’s EMG, are already prepared for the ‘55’ plate change. Nick Storey, managing director, says: “I can’t speak for other dealer groups, but we won’t feel any affect, as we’ve already pooled our cars for September.”
Ford says it is still evaluating what the full impact will be on vehicle deliveries to its dealerships. Its statement adds: “We hope there is a speedy end to the dispute, which comes in the run-up to the September ‘55’ plate change, one of the two busiest new car sales months in the year.”
During the first few days of the action, 2,000 Fords were stranded at depots in Avonmouth and Liverpool after their keys ‘disappeared’.
Ansa has recovered 1,000 keys at Avonmouth, but the vehicles at Liverpool, a base which Ansa describes as “a little pocket of Seventies British industry, which survives in 2005”, remain locked.