Ford's 1,200 job cuts in Canada said 'devastating'


By Scott Anderson

TORONTO, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co.'s plan to slash up to 20 percent of its work force in Canada is a "devastating" blow, Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, said on Monday.

"It's a huge hit for our members," Hargrove told a news conference.

Ford, North America's second-largest automaker, said on Monday it will cut 25,000 to 30,000 jobs and close 14 plants in North America by 2012.

The cuts involve the loss of one shift and 1,200 jobs at the Ford plant in St. Thomas, Ontario, which makes the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis vehicles.

"It's very devastating for the plant workers and their families and the communities in and around St. Thomas and London (Ontario)," Hargrove said. "The people are committed to the Ford Motor Co. They have won a number of awards in that plant and they were hoping that through all this that Ford would recognize that and get a new investment and a product line in that facility."

The St. Thomas cuts are in addition to 1,110 jobs to be lost at Ford plants in Windsor, Ontario, under a plan announced last autumn. In June 2004, the company closed its truck plant in Oakville, Ontario.

In 2005, Ford produced 19 percent of its North American vehicles in Canada, down from almost 29 percent 10 years earlier, according to figures compiled by independent auto industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers,

"We have taken a proportional hit here on top of the things that had already happened," said CAW economist Jim Stanford. "There is absolutely no evidence that Canada is getting off light despite the cost advantage. The pain is being felt obviously on both sides of the border."

Hargrove said the fact that the St. Thomas cuts don't take effect until "sometime in 2007" gives the union time to work with the company to soften the blow.

In late November, General Motors Corp. said it would cut nearly 3,900 workers at three of its Canadian plants under a program to shave 30,000 manufacturing jobs all told.

($1=$1.15 Canadian)



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