Published: Sat, June 08, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Unions blast ‘abysmal’ Ford over closure of Bridgend factory

Unions blast ‘abysmal’ Ford over closure of Bridgend factory

While Ford reiterated its commitment to other United Kingdom plants such as Dagenham and the remainder of an nearly 9,000-person British workforce, the planned closure of Bridgend by September 2020 was condemned by labor groups.

Ford operates two factories in Britain making engines, which are exported for fitting in vehicles in Germany, Turkey, the United States and elsewhere.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "Ford's challenges are not unique: economic uncertainty at home and overseas, technological change and global trade issues are stressing markets and forcing companies to review operations and make hard decisions".

The news comes as a further blow to the United Kingdom automotive industry, following Nissan and Honda's similar decisions in Sunderland and Swindon respectively.

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

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

Ford's European president Stuart Rowley told the Press Association that Bridgend workers were "great" and had "done nothing wrong", adding that they will be offered enhanced redundancies as well as help with finding other jobs.

Ford will close its Bridgend engine factory in Wales as part of a wider restructuring of its European business.

Ford will maintain its United Kingdom presence by continuing to produce diesel engines in Dagenham and transmissions in Merseyside, while the company's thriving commercial vehicle business Is based at its technical centre in Dunton, Essex.

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Len McCluskey, the general secretary of the Unite union, accused Ford of a "grotesque act of economic betrayal".

Trade union leaders were told the news on Thursday (Jun 6) morning at a meeting at Ford's Essex headquarters.

"Ford broke promise after promise to the UK".

Unite's officer for Aviva, Andy Case, said the union had challenged the company to explain its rationale for cutting an "already extremely stretched workforce" and encouraged it to make any staff reductions through cuts to volunteers, reliance on contractors, redeployment and natural attrition.

He said: "These workers and this community have stayed faithful to Ford, as have United Kingdom customers - this is still Ford's largest European market - through thick and thin, but have been treated disgracefully in return by this company".

A number of major auto and vehicle manufacturers have recently announced plans to reduce operations in the UK. "The Welsh and UK Governments must urgently do all they can to support employees, help them find new work and protect Bridgend's economy".

Ford has a second engine plant in Dagenham, which now employs 1,830 directly working on diesel engine production, with a further 1,050 in transport operations and general services. The plant employs around 1,700 people, with, possibly double that in local businesses that supply the plant.

"The simple way to think of that is, if Brexit had never happened, would there be a different decision?"

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