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Automaker’s Shift Cut at Canadian Plant Means Elimination of 500 Positions

Ford is promoting retirement to reach its job-cutting goal at the plant, which employs more than 3,000 workers and produces the Ford Edge and Flex and Lincoln MKX crossovers. The plant also will assemble the 2009 Lincoln MKT crossover.

September 16, 2011

Ford plans to eliminate the third body and paint shift at its plant in Oakville, Ontario, resulting in about 500 job cuts, Ford of Canada said Wednesday, September 10.

Ford is promoting retirement to reach its job-cutting goal at the plant, which employs more than 3,000 workers and produces the Ford Edge and Flex and Lincoln MKX crossovers. The plant also will assemble the 2009 Lincoln MKT crossover.

Retiring employees will receive a CAN$75,000 ($69,800) allowance and CAN$35,000 ($32,500) toward the purchase of a new Ford vehicle, Ford of Canada spokeswoman Lauren More said. The company has not sent layoff notices, and employees have no deadline for accepting the package.

“It’s too early to tell what the numbers will be,” More said.

Ford may be able to fulfill its job-cut goals without layoffs, said Gary Beck, president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 707 in Oakville. More than 650 of the plant’s employees are eligible for the retirement package, Beck said.

The job cuts will help align staffing with production, which has slowed because of “softening of vehicle sales in the U.S.,” More said, although sales of the Edge have risen in 2008, and Ford launched the Flex this summer.

“We can meet the market demand as we see it with the two shifts,” she said.

For the year, U.S. light-vehicle sales are expected to fall 9 to 12.5 percent from last year’s total, she said.

In July, Ford canceled plans to introduce a third shift—and about 500 potential jobs—in its final assembly at the Oakville plant. Retirement incentives at the plant were last offered in 2004 and 700 employees elected to take them, More said.

Through August, U.S. sales of the Edge rose 11.7 percent from the same period last year, while sales of the MKX fell 4 percent. Ford has sold 5,593 Flex units since its launch, including 2,010 in August.

Filed by Chrissie Thompson of Automotive News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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