Ford Motor Co. is preparing to trim production and idle 200 employees in September at its Canadian assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, building utility vehicles and could idle more employees at the plant in January 2020.
Ford said cuts follow a slowdown in sales of the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT and the decision to end sales of the Ford Edge in Europe.
“We have a long-standing practice of matching production with consumer demand. As a result, we are making changes to the operating pattern at Oakville Assembly Complex,” said company spokeswoman Kelli Felker in a statement emailed to reporters.
The impending cuts in production and employment will start Aug. 1, when Ford cuts the plant’s line speed by five units per hour.
The production cuts along among other schedule changes, will lead to the September layoffs and could lead to more in January, according to officials from Unifor Local 707, which represents the 4,600 employees at the plant
Unifor Local 707 president Dave Thomas said in a message to members earlier this week that the union had tried to avoid the production slowdown that will lead to the layoffs.
“We have been arguing as a Local for the past several weeks trying to persuade the company from somehow avoiding this scenario but to no avail,” he said.
Earlier this summer, Ford announced a whole series of cuts at its operations in Europe where it has eliminated 7,000 jobs and announced the permanent shutdown of an engine plant in Great Britain. It also has cut several hundred salaried positions in the United States as it prepares to conserve cash as the tempo of new vehicle sales slow in the U.S.
The market uncertainty surrounding the auto industry already has quickly emerged as one of the major issues shaping negotiations on the new labor contract between the United Auto Workers and Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Unifor’s labor pact with Ford and the other American car companies will expire in 2020. In the U.S., the negotiations have already begun between the UAW and Big Three automakers. Those contracts expire in September.
In addition, cuts at Ford come as the Canadian auto market has seen 16 months of consecutive sales declines and the industry contends with a sharp drop in sales in China and slowing sales in the United States.