Fears for 500 jobs at factory
Ford staff concerns over redundancy:
STAFF at the Ford engine plant in Bridgend say they have been told there could be voluntary redundancies after Christmas.
A weekly bulletin was sent to employees which said the US carmaker is planning on the basis that it will have too many staff by the middle of next year.
The document, seen by the Gazette, reads: “With surplus labour expected in the middle of 2019, the company are looking into voluntary redundancies through central FoB, further discussions are to be had reference to the T&Cs, timescales and plant headcount.
“This has not invoked the 12-month consultation period as there are no compulsory redundancies.”
The plant is currently producing 1,860 of the Ford petrol Sigma engines daily, but the document suggests managers only expect to be making 600 engines a day by July 2019.
As previously reported, demand for the second engine made at the plant – the Jaguar AJ-V8 engine – has been much lower than expected and is to be phased out in 2020.
The document also shows managers are planning to start production on the new Dragon engine in March 2019; however, there will only be one shift initially, with two shifts by the end of 2019.
One Ford engine plant employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “I am very concerned regarding my future employment.
“The main school of thought is that Ford is embarking on a two-stage closure of Bridgend.
“Within the next 12-18 months, when the two current engine programmes cease and Dragon takes off the plant will have a labour surplus of c.1,000.
“It’s a given that people will be losing jobs. There are strong rumours of 500 people to be offered voluntary redundancy after Christmas.”
We put the workers’ concerns to Ford, who said: “While Ford Bridgend engine plant has a long-established and successful record in the delivery of world-class engines, the auto industry is undergoing rapid change.
“Together with our union partners, we continue to look at other hightechnology opportunities for the future. For competitive reasons we do not divulge our projected production figures; however, it is normal practice for us to discuss with our union colleagues our volume expectations and ongoing labour requirements.
“We have nothing further to add at this time.”
Last year, a workforce planning document was leaked to staff which suggested the Bridgend plant would only need 554 employees to make the Dragon engine when the two older engines were phased out.
Currently at the site, there are around 1,550 employees and the plant is one of the biggest employers in Wales.
However, Jeff Beck, the regional organiser of trade union GMB, said the union was confident the level of redundancies would be “nowhere near the levels” feared.
Mr Beck said: “It’s been known for a while now that redundancies would be made, but we’re confident that they will be nowhere near the levels suggested.
“We’ve got a good working relationship with Ford, and we will continue to work with them to limit any job losses and to protect the future of the automotive industry in Bridgend through these difficult times.”
A spokesperson for trade union Unite added: “As per normal business both Unite and the company regularly review production and headcount requirements against fluctuations in demand.
“Discussions are ongoing against expected and unexpected variations in planned volumes.
“Throughout these discussions, Unite’s priority is to secure jobs for the future and ensure workers are not forced out of their jobs on compulsory terms.”
News of voluntary redundancies comes just weeks after staff were told to take a week off work due to a production line unexpectedly shutting down.
The AJ assembly line – which makes the Jaguar AJ-V8 engine – was closed for five days from October 29 until November 2.
Staff received a basic pay for their time off, but some were concerned the line closure would be followed by permanent job cuts.
Ford refused to say how many voluntary redundancies would be offered and when they would be offered.
The Ford engine plant in Bridgend