Talks bring new hope for workers
FORD is in talks with a chemical company about using its Bridgend plant to build a new offroad vehicle amid uncertainty over the factory’s future, writes Thomas Deacon.
The news comes after Ford told staff to take this week off due to a production line suddenly shutting down.
The factory is one of the biggest employers in Bridgend, and Wales, and has more than 1,500 employees. Staff at the factory were recently told to take a week off due to a production line unexpectedly shutting down. The closure led to some fearing it could be the start of permanent job cuts.
But talks between Ford and Ineos about plans to make an off-road vehicle similar to the Land Rover Defender provides hope to employees, according to the Financial Times.
It says Bridgend has been shortlisted for the production centre, and that the two businesses are in “live talks”.
Ford did not comment directly about the talks, but said “we continue to look at other high-technology opportunities for the future” amid an automotive industry “undergoing rapid change”.
Ineos has been approached for comment. Ford Engine Plant employees working on the AJ assembly line – which makes the Jaguar AJ-V8 engine – were told the line would be closed for five days from October 29 until November 2.
It meant staff have were told not to come into work for a week and that they would receive a basic pay for the days they’re not working. A letter from the Ford HR department confirming the plans was sent to those affected earlier this week.
The letter reads: “As you are no doubt aware, Jaguar Land Rover have recently announced a temporary cessation of vehicle production in the plants.
“Inevitably, this has had a knock on effect in a reduced demand for the component parts from their supply base, including ourselves here at BEP [Bridgend Engine Plant]. As such we have introduced five lay off days from Monday, October 29 to Friday, November 2 during which AJ production will cease and only activities that have business criticality or cost reduction opportunities will be undertaken.”
It continued to say that in order for staff to be eligible for the Lay Off Pay they must be “willing to perform work as and when required either in his normal job or any other suitable job allocated to him”.
No other production lines were affected.
One woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said her husband – an employee at Ford – found out about the plans last week and said they’re concerned the temporary line closure could be followed by permanent job cuts.
On October 27, Ford had not said if there are plans for more temporary line closures, future job cuts or confirmed how many people will be affected by the line closure.