1,000 jobs blow for car plant


South Wales Echo - - Front Page - ALAN JONES Press As­so­ci­a­tion echo.news­[email protected]­line.co.uk

THE Ford en­gine plant in Brid­gend will lose 1,000 jobs in US car gi­ant Ford’s cost-cut­ting plan in Eu­rope, sources have said.

The Welsh en­gine plant, which makes petrol en­gines for Ford ve­hi­cles and other car firms in­clud­ing Jaguar Land Rover, is ex­pected to be hard­est hit by the firm’s UK job losses.

The plans are for two phases of cuts at Brid­gend, achieved by 2020/21, sources said.

The Ford plant in Brid­gend has been fac­ing huge uncer­tainty as the life of the en­gines it cur­rently makes draw to an end with fewer staff needed for the Dragon en­gine ex­pected to come into pro­duc­tion there.

In Novem­ber, we re­ported that staff had been warned there would be vol­un­tary re­dun­dan­cies this year. It is thought that could in­volve as many as 370 staff go­ing.

The com­pany gave no de­tails about job losses in the UK, but said it was start­ing con­sul­ta­tions with unions to im­ple­ment a “com­pre­hen­sive trans­for­ma­tion strat­egy”.

Shop stew­ards from Ford fac­to­ries have now been given a brief­ing on the pro­pos­als.

Sources said the plans were for a to­tal of 1,150 job losses in the UK, with al­most 1,000 at Brid­gend and the rest at Ford’s trans­port op­er­a­tions, which would af­fect lorry driv­ers.

Peo­ple at the plant have pre­vi­ously told the Echo they think the US car firm is em­bark­ing on a two-stage clo­sure of Brid­gend with 1,000 jobs ex­pected to be sur­plus to re­quire­ments when the new Dragon en­gine pro­gramme comes into ef­fect.

Al­though 1,700 peo­ple are em­ployed at the plant at the mo­ment, only 500 are thought to be needed for the new en­gine.

The Fi­nan­cial Times re­ported that Ford has warned that its two UK sites – at Brid­gend and Da­gen­ham – face “sig­nif­i­cantly more dra­matic” cuts than al­ready planned if the coun­try leaves the EU with­out a trad­ing deal.

It said that ev­ery area of the Ford busi­ness in Eu­rope was now un­der re­view as the busi­ness is “com­pletely re­designed”.

Ford de­clined to con­firm the fig­ures and said it was con­sult­ing with unions.

The com­pany an­nounced on Thurs­day that it would be speed­ing up plans to cut struc­tural costs.

“We are tak­ing de­ci­sive ac­tion to trans­form the Ford busi­ness in Eu­rope,” said Steven Arm­strong, Ford’s group vice-pres­i­dent and pres­i­dent, Eu­rope, Mid­dle East and Africa.

“We will in­vest in the ve­hi­cles, ser­vices, seg­ments and mar­kets that best sup­port a long-term sus­tain­ably prof­itable busi­ness, cre­at­ing value for all our stake­hold­ers and de­liv­er­ing emo­tive ve­hi­cles to our cus­tomers.”

Ford said it was start­ing for­mal con­sul­ta­tion with its works coun­cil and trade unions, adding that it was com­mit­ted to work­ing with its key stake­hold­ers over the new strat­egy.

The an­nounce­ment from Ford came on the same day as Jaguar Land Rover said it was ax­ing 4,500 jobs and Honda said it was halt­ing pro­duc­tion for six days af­ter Brexit.

Jeff Beck, GMB or­gan­iser, said the union would “fight for ev­ery Ford job in Brid­gend and across the UK”.

“Our mem­bers there have been ex­tremely loyal to Ford, and we will stand by them,” he said.

Unite na­tional of­fi­cer for au­to­mo­tive in­dus­tries Des Quinn said: “What is be­ing pro­posed at Brid­gend is due to take place in two stages over two years.

“It is a dev­as­tat­ing blow for our mem­bers and their fam­i­lies, as well as hav­ing grave im­pli­ca­tions for the Welsh econ­omy and the sup­ply chain.

“Unite is fully com­mit­ted to op­pos­ing any com­pul­sory re­dun­dan­cies and cam­paign­ing strongly for Brid­gend to have a vi­able fu­ture.

We will be con­sult­ing our mem­bers very closely in the days and weeks ahead.

“There are a num­ber of fac­tors be­hind this grim news – the main ones be­ing chal­leng­ing mar­ket con­di­tions for car­mak­ers gen­er­ally, a lack of a co­her­ent in­dus­trial strat­egy from the UK Gov­ern­ment and the uncer­tainty cre­ated by Brexit.

“Over the last two decades the UK car in­dus­try has ex­pe­ri­enced a re­nais­sance of which we can all be proud of.

“The chal­lenge for gov­ern­ment, the car mak­ers and the unions in the near fu­ture is to fight very hard to main­tain the en­vi­ron­ment that made that suc­cess pos­si­ble.”

Labour Og­more MP Chris El­more de­scribed it as “a ham­mer-blow” to the South Wales econ­omy.

Suzy Davies, the Con­ser­va­tive AM for South Wales West, said: “A thou­sand job losses is stag­ger­ing news, a real punch in the stom­ach to so many fam­i­lies who live and work in the area.”

Ms Davies wants de­tails of what steps the Welsh Gov­ern­ment has taken to pro­tect jobs, stat­ing that it had said it was “in dis­cus­sions with Ford about how they could sup­port new tech­nolo­gies like elec­tric en­gines and au­tonomous ve­hi­cles”.

Claim­ing that “three years down the line there ap­pears to have been no progress on this”, she said: “I have writ­ten to the Econ­omy Sec­re­tary call­ing for him to ex­plain why he has not made more progress on this. As it is, this could well be the first real test for the new First Min­is­ter.”

The Welsh Gov­ern­ment has re­stated its com­mit­ment to “work closely with Ford to pro­tect the hun­dreds of highly skilled jobs at Brid­gend and in its sup­ply chain, as well as look for other high-tech­nol­ogy op­por­tu­ni­ties for the site”, adding that its “sup­port for the plant on its road to mod­erni­sa­tion be­comes even more crit­i­cal in this con­text”.

The De­part­ment for Busi­ness, En­ergy & In­dus­trial Strat­egy de­clined to com­ment on the grounds the re­port of jobs losses was “spec­u­la­tion”.

Plaid Cymru econ­omy spokesman Rhun ap Ior­w­erth said: “These re­ports are dev­as­tat­ing – both for the work­ers di­rectly af­fected and the wider Welsh econ­omy. If con­firmed, it would mean that the Ford plant in Brid­gend is set to lose the ma­jor­ity of its work­force.

“I will do ev­ery­thing in my power to make sure these work­ers are sup­ported and their rights pro­tected. Ques­tions have been raised about the fu­ture of the plant for some time.

“The Labour Welsh Gov­ern­ment should al­ready be at the door of the Ford man­age­ment, press­ing them on this de­ci­sion, which will seem­ingly lead to ter­ri­ble con­se­quences for thou­sands of fam­i­lies that rely on Ford for em­ploy­ment.

“An ur­gent eco­nomic sum­mit should be or­gan­ised, of the kind set up at the time of the eco­nomic cri­sis a decade ago.

“I will also be seek­ing ur­gent meet­ings with the work­ers and their rep­re­sen­ta­tives, as well as with Ford.”

He added: “A num­ber of dif­fer­ent fac­tors will have un­doubt­edly led to this de­ci­sion, how­ever, Brexit’s part in this dis­tress­ing news is un­de­ni­able. The eco­nomic re­al­ity of Brexit is jobs will be lost be­cause of the po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions made in Lon­don.”

Chris El­more MP


The Ford plant in Brid­gend which could see the loss of 1,000 jobs

Suzy Davies AM

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