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Walkout Ends at British Ford Plant

October 6, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ Workers returned to their jobs Wednesday at the largest Ford Motor Co. plant in Britain after walking out to protest what they said was racism and bullying by fellow employees.

Factory managers and union officials were holding talks in an effort to defuse tensions at the Dagenham factory in Essex, said an official of the Transport and General Workers’ Union who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The spontaneous strike by at least 800 employees began early Tuesday and continued with the participation of evening-shift workers.

It halted production of Ford Fiesta models bound for sale in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

``The impact is that 1,200 vehicles would normally have been produced yesterday,″ said Anne-Marie Chatterton, a spokeswoman for Ford Motor Co. Ltd.

Employees resumed work Wednesday at about 8:00 a.m. local time, said Chatterton, who added that the cause of the walkout had not yet been confirmed.

Union officials said the walkout was sparked by a series of incidents at the factory just east of London. An Asian worker claimed last month that he had been subjected to racist abuse and Ku Klux Klan graffiti, and last week a white foreman allegedly pushed an Asian shop steward.

Union representatives have asked the government’s Commission for Racial Equality to launch a formal investigation into what the TGW official called a culture of racism at the plant. The TGW represents more than half of the plant’s 4,500 workers.

Chatterton countered that Ford has an equal opportunities policy at Dagenham.

The costs from the work stoppage were not available, she said.

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