Reassurances about the future of engine production at the Ford factory in Dagenham are being sought by Unite, the largest union in the country.
The Ford plant in Dagenham currently makes 300,000 Puma engines for transit vehicles which will cease production in the near future.
The engine is set to be replaced by an improved model, the Panther engine. However it is unclear whether the new engine will be produced in Dagenham. Unite is currently campaigning for the new replacement Panther engine to be made at the Dagenham site, as Britain's largest union they fear that if the new engine is not sourced to Dagenham up to 1,000 highly skilled workers could face losing their jobs.
Dagenham Ford Factory
To add strength to their campaign and highlight its enormity, Unite invited MP for Dagenham and Rainham, Jon Cruddas to the plant on Thursday 6th September for a briefing on the implications. Jon Cruddas also co-ordinates the Labour Party's policy review.
Fears about the future of engine production in Dagenham comes against a backdrop of a renaissance in the British car industry reinforced by recent announcements made by Honda, that investment at its UK plant in Swindon has reached £267m amid plans to boost production.
Unite the Union
Unite's deputy regional secretary for the London and Eastern region, Vince Passfield said:
"The visit today by Jon Cruddas is part of the campaign to raise the profile of our efforts to secure the new panther engine for the plant.
"The hardworking workforce at Dagenham has contributed to Ford's success over the years and the panther engine should go there, and not be made in Eastern Europe.
"We would like the management to reassure the workforce and bring forward the announcement that the Panther will be produced at Dagenham.
"The conveyor andd stewards are doing everything possible to insure that the Panther comes to Dagenham and the future employment of the workforce is safeguearded."
After visiting the plant and hearing the details Mr. Cruddas has assured Unite that he will support the campaign and take the case for the Panther engine to the highest possible level.
Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham
Jon Cruddas MP commented:
"Dagenham has an immensely proud history of manufacturing. Now more than ever we need to be promoting local industry as a way of tackling unemployment, and that is why I am currently liaising with people at the highest level within Ford and the Government, working with Unite to ensure that the new Panther engine comes to Dagenham. We have to bear in mind that job losses would only come into effect if Fords Panther Engine was not sourced to Dagenham, so we need to make sure that it is. The introduction of the new engine would be a great investment for the Dagenham factory.
"Unemployment in the constituency has been on a steady decline over the last few months. However if the Dagenham factory does not get the engine there is a possibility of up to 1,000 job losses as a result, this coupled with the recent closure of the Barking Remploy factory means it is inevitable that the number of unemployed claimants will rise again and that is just unacceptable."
The Dagenham plant produces about one million engines a year, of which 300,000 are Pumas which go into transit vehicles made by Ford Southampton and in Turkey.
Ford Dagenham employs about 3,800 workers, of which 2,000 are employed on engine production. The Lynx engine is also due to cease production at Dagenham in June 2013.