Closing Ford's Welsh engine plant is 'industrial sabotage', unions say

Workers at the Ford engine plant in Bridgend in 2010

Workers at the Ford engine plant in Bridgend in 2010

Ford blamed the end of a contract to supply engines to Jaguar Land Rover and a fall in sales of petrol engines amid huge changes in the vehicle industry. Ford said there is reduced global demand for the new generation Ford GTDi and Pfi 1.5l engine, and production of the previous generation Ford GTDi 1.5l engine has stopped. Changes to what customers want, cost disadvantages and the loss of the Jaguar Land Rover deal made the Bridgend factory "economically unsustainable", Rowley said. "The Welsh Government will establish a taskforce to work together with others over the coming weeks to help find a sustainable, long term solution for the plant and its workforce".

Mr Rowley added: "As a major employer in the United Kingdom for more than a century, we know that closing Bridgend would be hard for many of our employees".

He said later the decision was nothing to do with Brexit but he realised the company's plans would be "very significant for the employees, their families and the community in south Wales".

Yesterday, union bossed were summoned to a meeting scheduled for this morning, leading to speculation about the closure of the factory.

Ben Cottam, head of external affairs at FSB Wales, said: "This is clearly a devastating blow for Bridgend and the wider region but most especially for those working within the Ford plant and those firms within the supply chain which are dependent on the plant". Staff had been threatening to strike amid fears of compulsory redundancies.

More than 2,000 people work at the site, according to Ford's website, which is one of two Ford engine plants in Britain.

The U.K. closure follows the decision to shutter plants in Germany, France and Russian Federation.

"We are committed to the United Kingdom", said Stuart Rowley, president of Ford in Europe.

This is a turbulent time for the automotive industry. This year we've already seen Honda announce the closure of its Swindon plant and several vehicle makers temporarily shutdown their factories. There is a global yearly market of some 500,000 for the Dragon engine and we demand our fair share of that.

While the Blue Oval claims that this is part of its redesign strategy "to create a more efficient and focused business in Europe", there's little doubt the decision has a lot to do with Britain leaving the European Union without a deal.

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"To what degree the decision to close the Bridgend plant is down to Brexit is less certain, however".

In May 2017, BMW chief executive Harald Krueger said the company had to remain "flexible" about production facilities.

Honda has announced plans to shut its plant in central England in 2021, while fellow Japanese car-maker Nissan reversed a decision to build its new X-Trail vehicle at its facility in the northeast.

Earlier this year, Mike Hawes, chief executive officer of the Society of Manufacturers and Traders, said the United Kingdom automotive industry is on "red alert".

GMB regional organiser Jeff Beck said: "It will mean disaster for both our members in Bridgend and the community at large".

The Unite union said at the time it expected almost 1,000 job losses at Bridgend.

"This is a terrible situation for the staff at Ford to be in, and unfortunately it will have a knock-on effect on many other businesses which supply the plant with services as well as the wider economy, too".

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British auto sales are down 3.1 percent so far this year, after falling in 2017 and 2018.

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