Talks bring new hope for work­ers

Glamorgan Gazette - - News -

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.

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