ford hopes to avoid strike in talks
Last Updated : GMT 06:41:18
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Ford hopes to avoid strike in talks

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Arab Today, arab today Ford hopes to avoid strike in talks

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Ford Motor\'s labour chief said the US automaker hopes to avoid a strike in its talks for a new labour deal with the United Auto Workers union, which officially began on Friday. \"The last thing we want to do is incur a strike,\" said Marty Malloy at the kick-off ceremony at a Ford truck assembly plant in Dearborn, Michigan. \"We work great with the UAW.\" At the ceremony at the Ford factory, the UAW negotiating team was dressed in sky blue pullover shirts, while Ford executives wore dark business suits and ties. Despite the sartorial differences, both sides voiced optimism about the talks. Ford, which has not suffered a UAW strike since 1976, was the last of the three US automakers to open talks with the UAW, following Chrysler on Monday and General Motors on Wednesday. While the UAW cannot strike GM or Chrysler, it has no such limitation with Ford. However, UAW President Bob King reiterated: \"I don\'t think about strikes. We don\'t collectively think about strikes.\" He said the UAW might seek the members\' permission to strike, but that was routine and had been done many times in the past. In the four years since the union and the three Detroit automakers last negotiated labour deals, the companies were pushed into crisis by collapsing vehicle demand and the financial convulsion of 2008. Both GM and Chrysler, now controlled by Italy\'s Fiat, filed for bankruptcy and were bailed out by the Obama administration in 2009. Ford did not take any bailout money as it mortgaged almost all its assets in late 2006 before the financial crisis hit. Since then, however, the automakers have returned to profitability, and the UAW has emphasised job security as its top priority. Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally reiterated that the company plans to hire 7,000 workers in the US in the next two years. Mulally said he wanted to make the No. 2 US automaker more competitive in these talks. One desire of Ford and its rivals is to lower the total labour costs they incur compared with those paid by their foreign rivals at their US plants. Malloy said Ford\'s total costs were about $58 (Dh213) an hour per hourly worker, $8 more than its foreign rivals. King saw the numbers differently, however. \"We would respectfully do our maths a little bit differently, but we\'ll talk about that at the bargaining table,\" he said. King said one of his proposals in the talks will be for the union, which represents about 41,000 hourly workers at Ford\'s US plants, to get seats on the company\'s board of directors. That repeats a goal he has laid out for all the automakers. Ford global manufacturing chief John Fleming said the current economic troubles would not \"colour\" the negotiations. From/ Gulf News

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