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Ford Australia Plans to Sell Foundry

March 14, 2009
Union worries sale could result in lost jobs
Ford Australia, a Ford Motor Co. subsidiary, indicated recently it has held negotiations to sell its Geelong engine-casting operations. A potential buyer has not been officially named, but union officials believe Queensland foundry Toowomba Metal Technologies, a subsidiary of CMI Industrial, is in the mix. "We have confirmed for our employees and our unions that we are investigating options for our casting operations in Geelong," said Ford Australia spokesperson Sinead McAlary. "As part of that process, we are in discussions with a company that has indicated a potential interest in taking on that business and growing it further." Ford Motor Co. has been retreating from metalcasting for the past two years. That year it closed the Windsor (ON) Casting Plant and a foundry in Leamington, England. It announced then that it plans to close the Cleveland (OH) Casting Plant, a shutdown now set for 2010. "The company's decision to move away from in-house casting operations is based on a thorough analysis of our business and a need to focus on our core operations,” a manager of the Windsor Plant said at that time. Also in 2007, Ford said it would stop producing six-cylinder engines at Geelong by 2010. Now, Australian Manufacturing Works Union senior shop steward Tony Anderson reportedly has said Toowoomba Metal Technologies had expressed an interest in purchasing the plant. He also said that workers, who on the average have 15 years employment at the factory, are worried a takeover could leave them "out of pocket." Toowoomba Metal Technologies produces cast iron components for a diversity of markets, including its TWP brand of truck and trailer wheel components, railway wagon and locomotive axle boxes, centrifugal pumps, automotive components, and water pipe fittings. It has a stated capacity of about 27,500 tons/year. "That's fine for Ford to sell us, but we've already seen companies faltering all over the place and workers scraping all over to get their redundancies," said Anderson. "People are not happy because Ford won't put in writing that it will actually cover what was negotiated as an agreement."