London (CNN Business)Ford is cutting 12,000 jobs and closing six plants as part of a major overhaul of its struggling business in Europe.
The carmaker is selling a manufacturing facility in Slovakia and closing factories in Britain, France and Russia, reducing the number of European plants from 24 this year to 18 by the end of 2020.The job cuts, which include roughly 2,000 salaried positions and affect over 20% of the company’s European workforce, will be made by the end of next year. Ford (F) said the reductions would be made primarily though voluntary redundancy programs. Stewart Rowley, president of Ford Europe, said Thursday that the changes would result in a “more targeted business.””Separating employees and closing plants are the hardest decisions we make,” Rowley said in a statement, adding that the company was in talks with trade unions and other stakeholders. Read More”Together, we are moving forward and focused on building a long-term sustainable future for our business in Europe,” he said. Robots could take 20 million manufacturing jobs by 2030Ford announced a year ago that it would spend $11 billion over the next three to five years to reshape its operations around the world. It confirmed in January that major changes would be made to its Europe business.The company’s sales and profitability are strong in the United States, but it’s trailing competitors badly in China and continuing to struggle in Europe and Latin America.Ford has roughly 53,000 employees in Europe including many in the United Kingdom, where Brexit threatens to disrupt auto industry supply chains and trade in cars across the region. The planned closure of a facility in Wales, which was announced earlier in June, means Ford will have only one major plant in the United Kingdom — a diesel engine factory in east London.The 10 most dire warnings from business on BrexitThe British auto industry has been hit hard by concerns that the United Kingdom could leave the European Union later this year without a trade deal. Ford’s rivals Jaguar Land Rover, Honda (HMC) and Nissan (NSANF) have also cut jobs and announced factory closures in the country in recent months.