Ford eliminating 280 jobs in St. Thomas, Ont.

Plant will cut jobs in July and lose one production shift next year

Ford will cut about 280 jobs at its St. Thomas, Ont., plant in July as part of a major assembly cutback, the Canadian Auto Workers union says.

Production of Ford Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis cars will be cut to 45 an hour from 55 beginning in July and the plant will drop to a four-day week. The automaker will also eliminate one production shift next year, which could wipe out another 900 positions.

In the first three months of 2006, sales of the Crown Victoria fell six per cent in the United States, while sales of the Grand Marquis fell 19 per cent.

However, there is some good news. Ford is going ahead with the $200-million investment at the plant that was promised during contract negotiations with the CAW last fall.

Union president Buzz Hargrove has said he hopes the 280 jobs to be eliminated will be done through attrition.

The St. Thomas plant has 2,250 hourly workers and 200 salaried workers.

In January, Ford announced it would eliminate 25,000 to 30,000 jobs in North America and that it would eliminate a production shift at the St. Thomas plant.

Ford also announced it would close seven assembly plants in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The five plants that have been identified have all been in the U.S. The $200-million investment in the St. Thomas plant gives some hope that the Ontario plant won't be one of the remaining two plants to be closed.

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