Car giant Ford announced plans to axe 850 jobs and freeze pay because of the “serious economic situation” affecting the motor industry. The announcement was made as figures showed new car sales slumped by more that 30% last month compared with January 2008.
The transit van plant in Southampton will be the hardest hit. Up to 500 jobs will be lost by May with a further 350 posts lost across the company through a restructuring of salaried staff. Ford said declining customer demand for commercial vehicles had had a "significant" impact on its Southampton plant, which currently operates on less than four shifts a week.
The company said in a statement: "Such a serious step would not normally be contemplated but in the unprecedented circumstances the priority is to ensure a sustainable Ford Motor Company."
Ford also said "Those companies which act quickly in taking the right decisions will be those who not only survive but who emerge strongest from this deep recession. We aim to be one of those who emerge stronger than before."