Friday 18 October 2019

Car giant Ford cutting 31 Irish jobs 'unlikely to be a Brexit strategy' - Tánaiste

A detail of a Ford van (Chris Ison/PA)
A detail of a Ford van (Chris Ison/PA)

Ralph Riegel

THE decision by US car giant, Ford, to cut jobs at its Irish operation with up to 31 positions at risk is totally unrelated to Brexit.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said he was sure the Ford move has nothing to do with Brexit and, rather, is linked to ongoing restructuring and centralisation within the global automobile industry.

Ford employs 31 people at its historic Cork headquarters, the majority in sales and marketing.

The car manufacturer's founder, Henry Ford, traced his roots back to west Cork and opened a car assembly plant in Cork harbour in 1917.

At its peak, almost 1,000 staff worked at the Cork plant.

Ford closed the Cork plant in 1984 with the loss of 800 jobs. "I think it is unlikely to be a Brexit strategy in term of reducing employment numbers in Ireland," Mr Coveney said.

"In fact, the opposite has happened in many sectors where companies - because of a lack of certainty in the UK - have decided to increase their workforce in Ireland.

"This is particularly so in financial services and other sectors.

"I am not briefed on the reasons why Ford have made this decision apart from what the media has said about global restructuring.

"I think I need to look at the reasons behind this decision before commenting further.

"Obviously our agencies will look to support the workforce there," the Tánaiste said.

"Luckily, we have a very strong jobs market in Cork at the moment. I think there is a bright future for people looking for employment in this State."

Ford confirmed it is reviewing its operations.

"We can confirm we have entered formal consultation regarding a proposal to further align our market representation in the UK and Ireland, to reduce costs, improve profitability and create a more customer-centric business," a statement said.

"This follows similar clustering actions made in other select markets in which Ford operates."

The US car giant is currently pursuing a cost-cutting programme across its global operations.

Ford hopes to cut more than €20bn from its spending by 2022.

The car firm recently re-aligned its Austrian operation with major functions transferred to its German headquarters. Ford employs more than 53,000 across Europe.

The majority of the jobs are located in its UK, German, Belgian and Spanish operations.

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