This speech regarding the recent decisions taken by Dagenham Ford, was delivered to the House of Commons today (06.11.2012) by Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham.

Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham and Labour's policy review coordinator
 

"Mr Speaker the workers who are employed in the Ford Dagenham stamping plant and toolroom were left ‘Shocked and bewildered’ by the hundreds of Ford job losses announced recently.

I have spoken to many of the workers affected since the announcement and the consistent response is one of profound shock; no one saw this coming.

Thursday 25 th October was a bad day for manufacturing both for the UK and  Dagenham. At 11am the head of Ford Europe announced the closure of the Southampton Transit facility and the Stamping Plant in Dagenham including the Toolroom. In total a loss of 1,400 jobs, 750 of which will be local jobs in my area.

As I understand it the net job losses will be in the region of 1100; 600 of which will be from the Dagenham Stamping and Tooling operations.

I must admit that his announcement came from nowhere. Locally we were blindsided.

Built in 1929 the Dagenham Estate has been a centre of production for Ford ever since.

A couple of weeks before I had been in both the Stamping and Toolroom facilities; meeting management and unions to discuss bringing more work into the plant. No one even mentioned possible closure; it was not an issue.

Of course we knew that announcements were coming. But our concern was to secure more investment in the Engine Plant through getting the new Panther Engine.

The Dagenham Diesel Engine Plant and Diesel Centre covers some 2.5 million square feet.

It has approximately 2000 employees.

In 2011 it shipped nearly 1 million engine units.

At present the Lynx engine in Dagenham has some 320,000 engine capacity per year. Although it is scheduled to finish in the second quarter of 2013. The Puma another 400,000 engines per year.

That is why our emphasis was on securing the panther engine on the Dagenham estate as there is a natural fit in terms of both the timeline and the actual capacity of the engine plant.

I had been lobbying  people at the highest levels in the Ford Motor Company Internationally and the British Government regarding the new engine to ensure that the investment came to Dagenham guaranteeing future jobs.

Included within this process was an application for Regional Growth Fund (Round 3) covering questions of plant readiness and training requirements.

Obviously the news of the job losses will worry many local families who are employed either directly by Ford or have a business that relies on the trade created by the plant. Speaking to people on Thursday afternoon and over the following days the worry is palpable following the announcement.

At a time when the economy is suffering as much as it is and families are struggling to pay their monthly bills, this announcement is not good. Last month saw a 0.2 per cent rise locally in unemployed claimants. The Ford announcement last week won’t help.

Sure there will be a very generous voluntary redundancy offer by the company and they have assured me that those who want a job will be re-deployed.

But in reality these jobs will be gone for good - quality manufacturing jobs - which won’t be available for young people in the borough in the future.

The closure will shake down in the supply chain and affect local families and peoples future job prospects.

However, in a bipartisan sense I am pleased that the London Mayor has convened an emergency Task Force dealing with the effects of Ford’s announcement.

This will include representatives from the London Enterprise Panel, London Borough of Barking and  Dagenham, BIS, the Skills Funding  Agency, DWP, and JobCentre Plus. This has already met.

Some us will be meeting with Ford’s Chairman Joe Greenwell over the next couple of days to alert him to the establishment of the Task Force and to ask for help.

The Mayor of London is important in terms of the future of parts of the estate.

The GLA is a significant landowner in the area. The Dagenham Stamping & Tooling Operations site is immediately adjacent to the GLA's Beam Park and Chequers Corner sites, as well as within close proximity to the Sanofi site due to close next year.

I would urge the Ford Motor Company to investigate how Sanofi have dealt with their own exit from my constituency.

Sanofi have worked brilliantly with the local community to redevelop their site and build more jobs and community facilities

I would urge the Ford Motor Company to enter into similar discussions to ensure that the Stamping & Tooling Operations site is decommissioned with limited detrimental impact to the local area. Indeed with an eye of future regenerative potentials.

The majority of redundancies will not come into effect until mid-2013. The expectation is that the Stamping Plant building will be decommissioned (all parts stripped and sold) and shuttered, which will take 9-12 months after closure next July.

Like Sanofi I would like to think that Ford will release land for regeneration north of the railway line following demolition and clearance of the stamping plant and all related buildings including remediation, decontamination and cleansing of the released land.  With a view to future economic regeneration- if you want as part of the Ford exit costs- given the benefits they have extracted for nearly 100 years from our part of East London.

However, I also have to put on record that there were some positive elements to the recent Ford announcement.

By this I mean the decision to invest in the new 2.0 litre, four cylinder low CO2 panther diesel engine at the Dagenham engine plant

Combined engine output will remain at approximately 1 million engines

The new engine will also support some 3500 engineering, design, admin and support jobs in nearby Dunton

So overall, whilst  I do welcome the news around the new investment in the Panther Engine which we have been fighting for, I cannot hide my disappointment about the latest decision.

We must do everything we can to support local residents affected by the closures and that of the boarder community.

We will be raising these points with Mr Greenwell here in parliament this week."