Ford may leave before 2016: union

Ford could cease manufacturing cars in Victoria before 2016 if the government cuts assistance to the car industry, according to the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).

As the ABC reports, Ford intends to continue making cars at Broadmeadows and Geelong until 2016. However, the AMWU said that any changes to the Federal Government’s Automotive Transition Scheme could jeopardise that plan.

Dave Smith, the head of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union vehicle division told the Herald Sun that, of the three car makers, Ford’s position is the most uncertain.

“While Toyota and Holden seem to be quite genuine that they want to stay in Australia until 2017 and build cars, Ford’s position is not as clear,” he said.

“The component industry is very fragile, it can fall over at any moment.”

Referring to the possibility that the Automotive Transition Scheme could be altered in the May budget, Smith said, “If they decide to drop off on that, then it (the car industry) will be over very quickly.”

However, Ford spokesman Neil McDonald told the Herald Sun the company remains committed to an October 2016 departure date.

“Our aim is to continue manufacturing until October 2016. We are committed to the new Falcon and Territory models and those cars will be on sale at the end of the year,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Herald Sun reports that there have been calls for the announcement of successful recipients of funds from the Melbourne North and Geelong investment funds to be sped up.

The schemes, funded by Ford as well as the federal and state governments, are intended to boost employment in the manufacturing sector in the wake of the decisions by all car makers to pull the plug on their Australian manufacturing operations.

Broadmeadows state Labor MP Frank McGuire has called for successful recipients to be announced all in one go to give councils the chance to co-ordinate necessary training needs of workers.

McGuire claimed the government is “drip feeding” the announcements for political reasons.

However, according to a spokesman for State Manufacturing Minister David Hodgett, they are being drip fed not only so the companies are publicised but also because some of them haven’t signed contracts yet.

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