Published: Sat, June 08, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Unions hit out at Ford plan to close Wales plant in 2020

Unions hit out at Ford plan to close Wales plant in 2020

Unions accused the firm of betraying the workforce and wider supply chain while Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price urged the company to reconsider.

Councillor Richard Young, Cabinet Member for Communities, Bridgend Borough Council said they would be asking for "significant investment" from United Kingdom and Welsh Governments to offset the impact.

The company also said its decision is based on the loss of a contract to create engines for Jaguar Land Rover cars, along with a general decrease in demand for Ford's 1.5-liter engines.

Unite, the union, said shutting the Bridgend site - which has been producing engines for around 40 - would take an "economic sledgehammer" to the Welsh economy and wider auto industry. Ford said it will put in place a comprehensive plan for the affected employees, including "an enhanced employee separation program" as well as measures to help employees find new jobs at other Ford sites in the United Kingdom or pursue other career opportunities.

Ford blamed the end of a contract to supply engines to Jaguar Land Rover and a fall in sales of petrol engines amid huge changes in the auto industry.

Assembly Member for Bridgend and former First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "Ford intend to shut the engine plant by next September".

Workers were being given the news at briefings inside the plant and were then expected to leave for the day.

"Today's announcement is another crushing blow for United Kingdom automotive manufacturing and, especially, the staff and their families in and around Bridgend", he said.

He added: "The UK is Ford's biggest European market, it holds first and second place in UK auto sales, yet disgracefully doesn't produce a single vehicle here. We will resist this closure with all our might". First, it was that it would build 500,000 engines at Bridgend. "The company has deliberately run down its United Kingdom operations so that now not a single Ford vehicle - auto or van - is made in the United Kingdom".

"Bridgend Ford has been our biggest single private sector employer at the heart of the community for nearly 40 years".

The Bridgend plant opened in 1980 and is a major employer in Wales.

In February, Honda announced plans to shut a plant in Swindon in 2021 while Nissan has reversed plans to build the X-Trail at its Sunderland site.

While Ford did not specifically blame Brexit for its Bridgend decision, the company told Sky News earlier this year it would have to carefully consider its United Kingdom operations in the event of a no-deal scenario.

Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India's Tata Motors, is also cutting jobs.

Ford announced last month that it was cutting 7,000 white-collar jobs worldwide, several hundred of them in Britain. "The UK Government will be working closely with Ford, local stakeholders and trade union representatives through the consultation".

Ford has operated the site since 1977, and it employs about 1,700 people, according to the report.

Labour MP Geraint Davies - whose father worked at the Welsh office and had convinced the vehicle firm to move to Bridgend - blamed Brexit for the decision.

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