This week marked the end for the Ford transmission plant near Bordeaux in southwestern France that opened in 1972. The end wasn’t entirely a surprise for the workers at the factory; Ford first said that it would close the transmission plant in February of 2018. What was a surprise was when workers came to work earlier this week and were told to go home, the plant was set to close on July 31.
Union activist Eric Troyas told the AFP that people turned up for work as usual and were told to go home, and told that there was no point in coming back. He says that people were crying and were thrown out like trash. Troyas says that the managers of the plant, which recently employed about 850 people, had taken advantage of the reduced union presence during the summer months to close the plant early.
There was hope when the closure was announced that a Franco-Belgian equipment manufacturer called Punch Powerglide would acquire the facility. The company had a plan that would save around half the jobs at the factory; nothing came of that plan.
Works committee member Gilles Lambersend said that when workers turned up on Wednesday of this week, Ford wasn’t trying to keep workers occupied and the assembly lines were empty. He says that workers cleaned out their lockers and left. Ford France did confirm to the AFP that production at the French transmission plant was finished. The spokesman noted that the plant had already been operating at a minimum level.
Ford had reportedly received about $17 million in state aid for the French transmission plant in recent years, but the French government acknowledged that it couldn’t ask Ford to pay that money back. The closure of the French transmission plant comes as Ford makes deep job cuts in Europe. The automaker talked about its European business redesign late last month.