Racial tension hits Ford plant
Ford Chief Executive Jac Nasser and Ford of Europe President Nick Scheele will meet with union officials at the earliest possible date in an effort to calm racial tensions at the company's plant in Dagenham, England.
Ford responded to a call from Transport and General Workers Union general secretary Bill Morris for a meeting after an alleged racist assault by a plant supervisor on an Asian worker.
The incident prompted a wildcat strike by 800 workers on October 5, temporarily halting production of the new Ford Fiesta.
'This is a further example of institutional racism,' said Morris in a press release. 'Ford Dagenham has been seen to consistently fail its black members.'
Scheele also issued a statement: 'It is in the interests of everyone that the issues and misunderstandings we have experienced in the past weeks are resolved on a lasting and timely basis. Ford takes matters of equal opportunities and diversity extremely seriously.' Ford officials said no meeting date has been set.
Report criticizes UK car retailing
The UK's Competition Commission has issued a report critical of existing auto retailing practices and suggesting changes that would allow retailers other than traditional auto dealers to sell cars.
The Commission is only part way finished with a year-long investigation of UK car prices, which consumer groups allege are higher than in other European countries.
The report urged that the European Union's block exemption, which permits manufacturers to sell and service their vehicles through exclusive dealerships, be replaced by a less restrictive law. That law would require makers to sell cars to any retailer who wished to market them, provided they follow certain guidelines.
The report also urged an end to other traditional car selling practices, including recommended retail prices.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which represents makers in the UK, opposes most of the recommendations.
The Commission's final report is due near the end of the year.
Valeo to build new Polish plants
Valeo has announced plans for a euro 120 million investment program in Poland to build four new production plants for engine cooling systems, clutches and transmissions, security systems and electric motors.
By 2003, Valeo expects sales from the Krakow-based factories to reach euro 300 million. 'The Krakow area is an obvious choice,' said Noel Goutard, chairman and chief executive of Valeo. 'I am impressed by the work force skills and the strong industrial environment.'