Nasser Challenges Racism At UK Ford Plants

With racial tensions high at Ford Motor Co.'s United Kingdom operations, CEO Jacques Nasser personally intervened and helped secure an agreement last week that calls for the appointment of a manager of diversity and the creation of a joint company-union equal opportunities and diversity committee at each of Ford's 13 UK plants, as well as at the national level. The Lebanese-born Nasser -- who says he encountered some difficult times growing up in Australia as a young boy because he was non-white -- says he wants similar racial accord at all Ford plants worldwide. The talks were triggered by a series of incidents at the Ford plant in Dagenham east of London, where nearly half the hourly workers are of Asian or Caribbean origin. Nasser met Sukhjit Parmar, whom the company admits had been targeted for three years, and told him he admired his courage. Parmar's constant complaints were ignored by management. Nasser's actions are seen in Britain as implied criticism of Ford's British management, which has tried to play down the harassment issue. A document denouncing foremen and supervisors as responsible for racism and bullying was issued by British auto industry unions and said: "If this is not acceptable behavior in Detroit, it cannot be tolerated at Dagenham either."

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