Ford strike ac­tion on hold while talks take place

Cynon Valley - - YOUR NEWS - ABBY BOLTER abby.bolter@waleson­

IN­DUS­TRIAL ac­tion over po­ten­tial job losses at Ford’s Brid­gend En­gine Plant has been put on hold while talks take place over its fu­ture.

Ford has said it wel­comes the de­ci­sion by union Unite and plans to work with them to look at fu­ture op­por­tu­ni­ties for the site.

In Au­gust, Unite con­firmed hourly-paid work­ers voted 52% in favour of strike ac­tion and 72% in favour of ac­tion short of strike ac­tion.

The union had bal­loted its mem­bers after it was re­vealed more than 1,000 jobs may be lost over the next few years after Ford cut its in­vest­ment in the new Dragon en­gine, mean­ing fewer work­ers would be re­quired to pro­duce it.

At the time a leaked doc­u­ment also claimed the plant was un­der-per­form­ing in com­par­i­son to sim­i­lar sites in­clud­ing at Da­gen­ham in Es­sex.

And last week Tata Mo­tors-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) an­nounced it would end its en­gine deal with the Brid­gend plant three months early in 2020.

Ford said that at its peak in 2015 it pro­vided JLR with half a mil­lion en­gines from Brid­gend.

The plant also pro­duces the Sigma en­gine for the Ford Fo­cus, Cougar and Mon­deo mod­els.

A work­ing group has now been es­tab­lished be­tween the Welsh Govern­ment, Unite, Ford and the Wales Au­to­mo­tive Fo­rum to look at what work could be brought to Brid­gend in fu­ture.

Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenk­ins has urged the Welsh Govern­ment to fo­cus on di­ver­si­fy­ing pro­duc­tion at Brid­gend Ford and pro­tect­ing as many jobs as pos­si­ble.

She has also called for more de­tail on how the work­ing group will op­er­ate and called for in­vest­ment on fu­ture tech­nol­ogy, such as mov­ing to devel­op­ment of an elec­tric car in­dus­try in Brid­gend and for a wider hub cen­tred on the town fo­cused on more ad­vanced, fu­ture man­u­fac­tur­ing, par­tic­u­larly sur­round­ing the car in­dus­try.

Ad­dress­ing the Senedd, Cabi­net Sec­re­tary for Econ­omy and In­fra­struc­ture Ken Skates con­firmed the work­ing group “will ex­plore all op­tions for the fac­tory, in­clud­ing new tech­nolo­gies in elec­tric and hy­brid en­gines”.

“It will re­port back to me on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and I give my un­der­tak­ing in turn to re­port back to this cham­ber on a reg­u­lar ba­sis too.

“Unite have help­fully con­firmed that their pref­er­ence is for di­a­logue rather than for for­mal in- dus­trial ac­tion. That’s a very wel­come move by the union.”

After last week’s an­nounce­ment by JLR, Og­more AM Huw Ir­ran­caDavies and Og­more MP Chris El­more ac­cused the UK Govern­ment of di­rect in­volve­ment in a “sweet­heart deal” which will lead to the en­gine work which is be­ing done at Brid­gend mov­ing to JLR’s plant in Wolver­hamp­ton in 2020.

But the UK Govern­ment said the in­vest­ment re­ferred to dates back to 2011.

A spokesman said: “The UK Govern­ment made clear that in­vest­ment de­ci­sions are a de­volved mat­ter and the UK Govern­ment is fo­cussed on bring­ing in­vest­ment into the UK as a whole.”

A Ford spokes­woman said: “We clearly wel­come Unite’s de­ci­sion, and our ap­proach has been con­sis­tently for con­struc­tive di­a­logue with our union part­ners, ded­i­cated work streams are in place to move for­ward to­gether to ex­am­ine fu­ture busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for the Brid­gend op­er­a­tion.”

Unite has been ap­proached for com­ment.

The Ford en­gine plant near Brid­gend

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