I’M WRITING to thank Bruce Newton for penning such a wonderful article on the Ford Australia employees (SM, Nov ’16). As a former Ford employee myself, it was extremely enjoyable to read about the closure of local Ford manufacturing from the employees’ perspective. A very wellwritten and beautiful tribute.
I’d like to share some of my stories of my time at Ford’s Broadmeadows assembly plant in the late 1990s.
I remember it as a madly busy place, with 440 cars being built per day.
One car for every minute of the working day was the aim; there was a large red digital sign hanging over the assembly line that counted the number of cars as they were built.
It was hard work, but there was a lot of satisfaction too, knowing that you were responsible for creating a car that would be someone’s daily driver for five, 10, 20 or 30 years.
It was an interesting place to work, too. Around the time I started I noticed a very pretty secretary who’d regularly walk between the various plant offices. After a few weeks – much to my disappointment – she disappeared. Curious as to where she’d got to, I asked around and uncovered the following plot.
See, occasionally a new manager would get promoted in the plant and he’d hire a pretty secretary. The secretary would then run errands and things around the plant, and the assembly line workers would get distracted. Soon there’d be cars turning up at the end of the assembly process missing seats, headlights, etc. So the pretty secretary had to go.
But Ford, not being unkind to its employees, had a solution. The pretty secretary would be transferred to work in marketing in the then-head office on the Hume Highway side of the grounds.
Disbelieving this story, I decided to test the theory out and went to visit marketing on the flimsy pretext of needing some posters. Sure enough, it was wall-to-wall supermodels – the result of years of new managers hiring pretty secretaries who were then banished to marketing!
Ford was probably one the most multicultural and accepting places I’ve ever worked; it wasn’t uncommon to see signs written in four languages.
It was so good to read this article and know that it hadn’t changed all that much since my time there, and still contained passionate and proud employees right to the end.
Thank you Street Machine!