Hundreds of workers at London’s 90-year-old Ford Dagenham plant win pay rise amid tight labour market


undreds of workers at the famous 90-year-old Ford Dagenham plant in east London have won a pay rise in the latest example of workers securing wage hikes in a tight labour market.

The factory built iconic vehicles, from Model Y to Zephyr and Fiesta, and now makes hi-tech Transit Custom diesel engines.

October marked 90 years since the first vehicle – a Ford AA – was made at the plant. It is still London’s largest manufacturing site.

Unite Union said more than 300 contractors who assemble the Diesel engines at the site, who are employed by firm Lineside Logistics, had voted to accept a one year 5.1% pay deal. The deal was backdated to July 1 this year, the union said.

It comes at a difficult time for the entire car manufacturing sector, which has seen output hit by supply chain disruption, labour and chip shortages.

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Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, labelled the deal significant “given the particularly difficult circumstances in the automotive sector currently”.

Workers spanning many sectors have been securing big pay rises in recent months in a tight labour market.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020 companies around the world slashed headcount or implemented recruiting freezes as the world went into lockdown. But the jobs market has boomed in recent months as economies reopened and businesses look to grow.

Latest ONS figures suggest there are now over 1 million job vacancies in the UK.

A recent report from KPMG found companies are facing having to pay both permanent and temporary staff higher wages. Hospitality bosses have called on the Government to offer two-to-three year working visas to young EU workers to help alleviate the staffing crisis.

Restaurant chains such as Itsu and Prezzo have already hiked wages as much as 11% and 5% respectively.

The Ford Dagenham news comes days after restaurant staff at Harrods won a near-25% pay rise in what union reps said set “a new benchmark” for pay in hospitality.

The Knightsbridge department store has committed to hiking hourly wages to £11.50 — above the London Living Wage of £11.05.

The raise equates to an annual salary increase of around £5,000 for some workers, the UVW union said, and averted threatened strike action in the Christmas week.

A Harrods spokesman said the pay rise came as a result of internal discussions, not union action.

The store is owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

The Standard has contacted Lineside Logistics for comment.