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Staff at Ford threaten strike action over pensions
The news raises the prospect of the first strike at the company since the 1970s.
Unite, which represents 2,500 workers, said the move followed anger over plans to close the firm's final salary pension scheme to new starters, as well as lowering rates of pay.
The union said it feared Ford's move could lead to the ultimate closure of the company's final salary pension scheme for all staff.
It comes after company bosses insisted there was still a bright future for the Swaythling plant - despite news that the latest version of the iconic Ford Transit van will not be built in Southampton.
Unite's national officer Roger Maddison said: "Ford faces the very real prospect of the first strike since the 1970s. Unite will not stand by and allow Ford to create a two-tier workforce on pay and pensions. We urge Ford to return to the negotiating table if it wants to avoid this dispute.
"We fiercely oppose the closure of Ford's final salary scheme to new entrants. This is the thin end of the wedge. Ultimately we believe Ford will try to close the entire scheme.
"To make matters worse, the company is trying to create a two-tier workforce by making new starters work for 10% less money for doing the same job as existing staff. This is totally unacceptable."