Saturday, February 28, 2009

Our Ford

The FJ on the decline of Ford's enormous Dagenham Plant, with particularly dreamlike photos (from here) of the place and its products. This is all quite timely, given the current collapse of the car industry and the innumerable jobs that still rely on it in the still thoroughly motorised post-Fordism - and for the stereotypical left wing intellectual, here as with mining, an impulse either to be quite content that the bloody places are being shut down or to defend the workers who are facing redundancy tend to fight it out inconclusively. Regardless, I have had this on my mind a bit, as one of the places which I didn't get space to mention in my Southampton piece(s) was the Ford Transit factory in Swaythling. When I lived on the Flower Estate, the suburban roads' dips and valleys always seemed to point towards the white expanse of Ford's, which would once no doubt have been the eventual employment destination of those my age in that area, by then probably largely supplanted by call centres and the dole - and out of the three, I would far prefer the last option. 

The Ford Transit factory in question is now in big trouble, and has been working a four-day week - this all reached tragicomic proportions not long ago when two bosses at the plant were imprisoned for stealing parts from the line, no doubt well aware that the whole place was imminently going under. The fact that the Name Of The Ford endures in the terms 'Fordism' and 'Post-Fordism' is very just, given the way that so many of us could talk about the ways in which the Ford Motor Company has directly affected our lives and those of our loved and not-so-loved ones. This also has tragicomic consequences - I recently read one irate letter to the Southampton Daily Echo where the writer, lambasting the corporation for its imminent abandonment of Southampton, was labouring under the misapprehension that Ford - that icon of Americanism - was a British company. Nonetheless, two uncles of mine, one from each side of the family but who for inadvertent comedy value had rhyming names, worked for decades at Ford's. Given that I'm writing about Ford himself and Fordism in my PhD, I have occasionally felt that I ought to ask them what it was like on the line (aside from the obvious answer 'fucking noisy and tedious'), even if it was half-a-century after the period I'm writing about. I can't really do so, because one of them now lives somewhere obscure in a caravan (just punishment in my book for buying his council house) and the other is dead, from a leukaemia that I sometimes wonder had something to do with spending most of his life on the Line.


Blogger Charles Holland said...

actually did you read the granta issue on the factory? it's from 2006 I think but there are some things in it factory wise. just thought i'd mention it. makes a pleasant change from terry farrel.

10:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ford of Britain (Ford Motor Co Ltd) is a wholly owned subsiduary of Ford Motor Co of America.

It is however listed at Companies House, and its Head Office is in the UK.

It is therefore a British company. It is quite able to exist separately from it's parent - in fact that could well happen after Ford U.S collapses later this year

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