Fears for 500 jobs at fac­tory

Ford staff con­cerns over re­dun­dancy:

Glamorgan Gazette - - Front Page - BRONTE HOWARD [email protected]­line.co.uk

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.

NICK TREHARNE

The Ford en­gine plant in Brid­gend

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