At a time when the dismantling work of the Ford site in Blanquefort (Gironde) has just started a few days ago, the American automobile giant has just announced a record investment of 1 billion dollars in its factory in Cologne, Germany. , so that within ten years it will produce all the brand’s electric cars that will be sold in Europe.
An announcement that arouses great bitterness among former employees of the Ford plant in Blanquefort. 850 layoffs were pronounced in 2019 and 250 people still have not found a job. “My heart hurts when I see all these construction machines taking turns to make room,” sighs Jean. He came to take some photos to keep a souvenir of this factory where he worked for 25 years.
It is true that the demolition site is large-scale. 227 tonnes of furniture and 130 tonnes of steel must be extracted, not to mention asbestos removal operations in several sectors.
“We are closely monitoring this operation,” says Véronique Ferreira, the mayor of Blanquefort. We have no communication with Ford but we just know that everything must be finished by the end of 2021. Then, the question of the sale of this immense 70 hectare site will arise. I have no illusions as the mayor of a small town facing such a group but one thing is certain, we will be there. “
“When I saw the big bosses of Ford bulging their chests detailing this colossal investment, I thought back to all those years of fighting. We were fighting because we knew that there was a possible future in Gironde. We lost but this announcement also proves that we were right, ”says Gilles, trade unionist and former works council manager of the plant.
“We could have made these electric cars”
In fact, in the works council which adjoins the factory, only a computer and a photocopier remain. All the shelves are empty. Here and there, still lying around old telephone handsets witnesses of another era, leaflets calling for demonstrations and a cardboard silhouette of Teddy Riner, ex-advertising face of the brand wearing a T-shirt No to industrial scrap. “I do not know if he followed our galleys but in any case, we still drink coffee in front of him when we come here”, smiles bitterly Jean-Louis, ex-trade unionist.
“We were 4,500 at the peak of our activity. It was a real hive, ”recalls Yolaine. She drove machines on the production lines of automatic transmissions: “Seeing what is happening in Germany makes us angry. We say to ourselves that we too could have made these electric cars. Same feeling for Isabelle, 55 years old. Ex-manager, she still has not found a job. “I don’t blame German workers. But when Ford no longer needs them, they will be treated like us… ”
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Today, only the premises of the former works council are still standing, with just in front of its windows, two Algecos where the director of human resources and two secretaries still work. “He handles day-to-day business,” explains Gilles. In principle, he is due to retire at the end of February. After him, for sure, there will really be no one left. “