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German union representative says Ford executives have proposed talks on restructuring plan

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Ford executives have indicated they are willing to discuss planned structural changes at the U.S. automaker’s plants in Germany with union representatives, the chairman of the Ford plant workers’ committee said on Saturday from Cologne.

Ford said on January 20 that its planned transition to electric vehicle (EV) production would require unspecified structural changes, raising fears of job cuts at its German production sites.

Ford has committed to offering an all-electric lineup in Europe by 2030, and its U.S. executives have repeatedly stressed that electric vehicles require less labor.

German union officials said Wednesday that Ford would decide by mid-February how many jobs to cut in Europe.

“Ford management has indicated that it is ready to discuss,” said Benjamin Gruschka, affiliated with the IG Metall union, at a press briefing in Cologne.

He added that no date for negotiations had been agreed and that Ford had not yet given details of the implications of its restructuring plan.

A Germany-based Ford spokesperson declined to comment Saturday.

The IG Metall union said it was preparing for the worst-case scenario for the Cologne site, with up to 2,500 job cuts in product development and another 700 in administration.

Gruschka also said Ford employees were prepared to oppose any cuts, but declined to elaborate further.

BYD and automaker Magna are among suitors interested in buying Ford’s site in Saarlouis, Germany, according to media reports this month.

(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; writing by Ludwig Burger; editing by Alison Williams)