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Ford ‘to close Bridgend plant next year’

An official announcement from Ford is expected later today.

The Ford engine plant in Bridgend (Jacob King/PA)
The Ford engine plant in Bridgend (Jacob King/PA)

Ford is to close its engine plant in Bridgend next year, according to union sources.

The decision will lead to the loss of 1,700 jobs at the South Wales factory, and many more in companies supplying goods and services to the plant.

The news was being confirmed at a meeting between company officials and union leaders, sources said.

The closure, due in September 2020, deals another huge blow to the car industry.

An official announcement from Ford is expected later on Thursday.

We’re hugely shocked by today’s announcement, it's a real hammer blow for the Welsh economy and the community in Bridgend Jeff Beck, GMB

GMB regional organiser Jeff Beck said: “We’re hugely shocked by today’s announcement, it’s a real hammer blow for the Welsh economy and the community in Bridgend.

“Regardless of today’s announcement, GMB will continue to work with Ford, our sister unions and the Welsh Government to find a solution to the issue and to mitigate the effects of this devastating news.”

Workers were being given the news at briefings inside the plant and are then expected to leave for the day.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Ford’s decision to shut its Bridgend engine plant in 2020 is a grotesque act of economic betrayal.

“These workers and this community have stayed faithful to Ford, as have UK customers – this is still Ford’s largest European market – through thick and thin, but have been treated disgracefully in return by this company.

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Ford engines on the production line at the Bridgend factory (PA)

“Ford broke promise after promise to the UK. First, it was that it would build 500,000 engines at Bridgend. That fell to a quarter of a million, then fell again and again to now just 80,000.

“The company has deliberately run down its UK operations so that now not a single Ford vehicle – car or van – is made in the UK.

“Ford has treated its UK workers abysmally, and they could do so because the fact remains that it is cheaper, easier and quicker to sack our workers than those in our competitor countries.

“But Ford can forget about it if it thinks we will make it easy for Ford to walk away from this workforce. We will resist this closure with all our might.”

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner added: “Ford will be taking an economic sledgehammer to the Welsh economy in an act of gross industrial sabotage if it doesn’t urgently reverse these closure plans.

“Instead of betraying workers who have worked tirelessly to make Bridgend one of the most efficient engine plants in the world, Ford bosses should be rebalancing global engine production from Mexico and India to Bridgend. There is a global yearly market of some 500,000 for the Dragon engine and we demand our fair share of that.

“Unite representatives across all of Ford’s UK sites have previously stated if any plant in the UK is faced with closure or compulsory redundancies, they would all move to a ballot for industrial action.

“Ford bosses should be in no doubt. Unite will not stand back and let Ford turn its back on its loyal UK workforce and allow our members’ livelihoods to be shredded because they are cheaper and easier to fire than their counterparts elsewhere in the world.”

Union sources said Ford bosses spent much of the meeting explaining how much cheaper it was to build engines at its plant in Mexico compared with Bridgend.

The Bridgend site opened in 1980, covers an area of 60 acres, and is one of Wales’s major employers.

The news comes as Honda prepares to shut its Swindon plant in 2021, while fellow Japanese car-maker Nissan reversed a decision to build its new X-Trail vehicle at its Sunderland plant.

Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India’s Tata Motors, is also cutting jobs.

Ford also has another engine plant in Dagenham, Essex, and a plant making transmissions in Halewood, Liverpool.

Ford announced last month that it was cutting 7,000 white collar jobs worldwide, with up to 550 expected in the UK.

PA

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