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Tears fall as Vic Ford workers finish up

AAP logoAAP 6/10/2016 Helen Velissaris

Wiping his tears with a Ford flag, Nick Doria walked out for the last time from the company's Broadmeadows assembly plant as it ended car-making in Australia after more than 90 years.

Mr Doria and around 600 workers from both the Broadmeadows and Geelong plants have lost their jobs.

Workers from both plants caught up via video link on Friday morning for a private farewell ceremony.

The Geelong plant opened in 1925 and Broadmeadows followed in 1959, with Mr Doria clocking on for the first time there 22 years ago.

A production line mechanic who fitted dashboards into cars at the plant, Mr Doria, 51, has no new job lined up.

"I don't have to get up for work anymore," he told reporters.

"I have nothing else to do. My life has been at Ford."

The diesel mechanic hopes to pick up his trade again after some time off painting his house.

Finishing off the last cars on Friday, Mr Doria left a lasting mark by writing his initials on a Falcon's floor plate.

Some of the last Ford cars to be built were raffled off to workers as a parting gift, the workers' union said.

Emotions were running high as employees left the plant.

Ahmet Eren got a job at Ford three days after arriving in Australia in the 1980s. He's worked there for 36 years.

"There's lots of crying, it's a sad day," he told AAP.

"It's not easy."

Many workers are facing unemployment, underemployment or early retirement, the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union says.

The union says research after the 2008 closure of Mitsubishi's Adelaide plant suggested just one-third of employees found permanent work within six months.

Australian Catholic University research has found 87 per cent of the departing Ford workers are yet to start looking for a new position.

That's despite 62 per cent saying they want a new job. Only eight per cent are ready to retire.

The workers will receive five weeks' redundancy pay for every year they worked at Ford. The average length of employment is almost 20 years.

Ford Australia chief executive Graeme Whickman says the company told employees about the job losses three years ago "to give them the best chance to move on and be successful".

Ford will continue to employ around 2000 people in Australia comprising about 1100 designers and engineers, 500 in product development, and the rest in marketing-type roles.

The company has no concrete plans for the abandoned sites.

Industry association Ai Group says the flow-on impact of the Ford shutdown is rightly being taken seriously by the Victorian and Australian governments.

"It is critical that transition programs be continued and increased where possible to ensure the most is made of the capabilities of the employees and businesses in the automotive supply chains that have lost an important source of income," chief executive Innes Willox said in a statement.

Victorian Industry Minister Wade Noonan says the government is providing $46.5 million of assistance for the state's auto workers, and businesses and communities hardest hit by the closures.

Holden and Toyota will cease manufacturing in Australia in 2017.

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