FORD said it would cut several hundred jobs in Europe because of declining demand, including in the UK, and that its European operations could see losses of £630m this year.
It did not say how many jobs would go from its 15,000-strong UK workforce.
“Ford of Europe expects the programmes to result in the reduction of several hundred salaried positions, but exact figures won’t be known for a few months,” a spokesman for the company said. “Any Ford salaried staff separations across all three programmes will be purely voluntary.”
When Ford unveiled its new models in Amsterdam this month its European chief executive Stephen Odell said Europe offered tremendous growth potential in the long term.
Unite’s national officer for the automotive industry, Roger Maddison said: “Unite will be asking that its officers and reps have full involvement in this process, which will be voluntary.
“We are also concerned that there is a coherent business case in going forward. We don’t want the remaining managerial and engineering staff having excess workloads imposed on them once their colleagues have left the company. Ford has said it has excess capacity in these areas and we have to recognise the challenging economic conditions that Ford is facing.”
The news came as a report called for urgent action to tackle an impending skills shortage if the UK is to remain one of Europe’s most attractive locations for car manufacturers.
The study by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said there were high hopes for the industry in the found that UK manufacturing operations had an enviable reputation for quality and exported to 150 countries.
But the report, compiled by KPMG, warned that the prospect of a shortage of skilled workers poses a risk.
Skilled engineers are becoming increasingly sought after in the wake of advances in technology and the growing importance of low carbon, said the report. The report said industry suppliers needed to be “reinvigorated”.
Paul Everitt, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “With unprecedented levels of investment committed to UK automotive in recent years, the future for our industry is bright.
“It is clear that domestic suppliers have the potential to benefit significantly from increasing output volumes, but they need the right mix of Government support and private investment.
“With robust global markets and a diverse mix of models produced here, we are more resilient than other countries to eurozone weakness, a key factor in encouraging businesses to invest in the UK.”
Business Minister Michael Fallon said: “This report reinforces the message that investing in the UK auto sector makes good business sense.
“We have some of the most productive plants in Europe, a highly skilled and flexible workforce and one of the lowest corporation tax rates in Europe.
“We have a good track record, with global vehicle manufacturers investing £6bn in UK projects over the last two years. However, there is no room for complacency.”