The beans were spilled by trade unionists after Ford began circulating restructuring plans. The Southampton factory, which has manufactured around six million Transit vans over the past 45 years, will cease production by 2013, insiders reckon. Ford is planning to cut costs by moving the Transit operations to Turkey instead. Roger Maddison, the Unite union's national officer for the automotive industry, says, ‘The Transit van is associated with the ‘white van man' tradesmen in Britain and is iconic, like London's black cabs, and it will be sad to see it go.’
However, Southampton’s loss may be Dagenham’s gain. Ford is still making some of its engines here, and is planning to ramp up production of its Diesel engines and panels to meet international demand. No doubt, some of the Hampshire-based staff will be invited to move across. And with Nissan, Toyota, Honda and Jaguar Landrover all committed to ramping up their UK car-making activity, at least Ford’s erstwhile workers may find the job market slightly less unpleasant than in other industries.