Ford Pushes Through With Job Cuts, More Than 200 Affected

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | November 16, 2012 12:35 PM EST

Ford Australia, as part of an announcement made in July, has pushed through on Friday its workforce reduction, in which more than 200 workers from its Victorian plants in Geelong and Broadmeadows eventually lost their jobs.

Most of those affected were long-term employees in Victoria. Ford first said in July it would slash 440 jobs at the two plants by November, owing to a decline in large car sales as well as a production cut.

Some of the affected workers have been working at for over 25 years, according to the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).

''People want to work for the company; these are not workers who are going to be labelled Ford's unwanted. But unfortunately they (Ford) are just not selling enough cars at the moment,'' Dave Smith, acting national secretary of AMWU, told News Limited.

"I've been at Ford all my life - since I was 18 years of age. It's terrible it's been my life. I don't know, I'm a bit lost now," The Australian quoted Zeljko Hrkac, a door line assembler who has been with Ford for 28 years.

"There's nothing more you can do. I was hoping I might stay," he said, adding he had never experienced working for another corporation or business entity.

"They told me to go to Centrelink," he said.

A total of 212 jobs at the Geelong and Broadmeadows plants will be slashed, where 118 were voluntary while the rest were forced cuts.

"Unfortunately, as we didn't achieve the required number of redundancies voluntarily, the company is moving ahead with a compulsory redundancy program," said Sinead Phipps, company spokeswoman.

Ms Phipps noted that Ford will provide a commensurate monetary minimum of 3.1 weeks per year of service to those who accepted voluntary redundancy, while those hit with forced redundancies will receive five weeks' pay per year of service, at 90 weeks most.

"It felt like a funeral," forklift driver Steve Brown, who has been with the company for 23 years, said. He was able to maintain his job, but still was sad for his colleagues who had to go.

"We are working through the redundancies in as dignified and caring a manner as possible and not single out those who are leaving our business compared to those who are remaining'," Ford said in a statement.

"It will be devastating for them," Mr Smith said.

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