Motoring giant Ford has announced a shock proposal to close its factory in South Wales in another worrying blow to the UK’s floundering car industry.
‘So much for the special relationship Mr Trump’
Union chiefs expressed their dismay at the news and were set to meet company officials, who have flown in from the US, for talks on Thursday morning.
If the plant at Bridgend closes, around 1,500 jobs are set to go. Further jobs along the supply chain would also be at risk.
Ford has not yet commented on the situation. The firm is expected to give more details at lunch time on 6 June.
Unions in shock
A Unite spokesman said: “Unite will be meeting Ford first thing tomorrow [6 June] morning and will comment further once the details of any announcement are known.
“Our priority is our members’ jobs, the communities and livelihoods in the supply chain that Ford Bridgend supports.”
GMB Regional Organiser Jeff Beck said: “We haven’t as yet had any confirmation of any closure but we can confirm we’re meeting with Ford tomorrow and a new agenda has been arranged, which we’re yet to see.
“If our worst fears are confirmed it will mean disaster for both our members in Bridgend and the community at large, who we will stand by the tough thick and thin.
“The ironic part is in the week that Donald Trump is meeting the UK Prime Minister and talking up a special relationship and trade deal with the UK and the US, if the plant does close, the new line is likely to be taken to Mexico by an American company.
“So much for the special relationship Mr Trump.”
The Bridgend plant, which covers some 60 acres of land, opened in 1980 and is one of the area’s largest employers, manufacturing engines for 40 years.
Workers at the factory produce two engines and were projected to begin building the new Dragon engine this year.
Demand for the two engines currently made at the plant has been falling, however, and unions previously expressed concern that jobs would go if new contracts were not secured.
Unions have previously warned of a ballot for strikes if compulsory redundancies are made.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow secretary for business, energy and industrial strategy, said the latest development is worrying for those reliant on work at Ford.
“This is worrying news, first and foremost for Ford employees and their families who are left unsure as to their futures, but also for the jobs across the supply chain and the impact on the local economy in Bridgend,” she said.
“Hot off the heels from Honda this would be another devastating blow to our car industry and to the UK’s wider manufacturing base.
“The Government must urgently meet with Ford to secure the plants future.”
The news is the latest blow to the UK’s car industry.
Honda has announced plans to shut its Swindon plant in 2021, while fellow Japanese carmaker 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 an 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.
Additional reporting by PA