Ford Edge vehicle

Ford accused of ‘sledgehammer’ blow over Bridgend closure plans

Unite, the UK’s largest union representing car workers, accused Ford of taking an economic sledgehammer to the Welsh economy and wider car industry after the carmaker announced plans today (Thursday 6 June) to close its Bridgend engine factory with the loss of 1,500 jobs.

Vowing to leave ‘no stone unturned’ in its fight against the proposed closure, Unite called on Ford to rethink, saying it would be a gross betrayal of workers who had worked hard to deliver massive budget savings and make the Bridgend plant one of the most efficient in the world.

Unite warned that the closure of Bridgend would send shockwaves through the Welsh economy and wider supply chain, imperilling the livelihoods of thousands of people.

Bridgend makes the Dragon petrol engine which is used in a range of Ford models across the globe.

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “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.

“The UK is Ford’s biggest European market, it holds first and second place in UK car sales yet disgracefully doesn’t produce a single vehicle here. If Ford wants to sell vehicles in this country it has a responsibility to maintain a strong manufacturing footprint here not run off into the sunset to cheaper markets where sales are low but profits high.

“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 that 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.

“In the coming days Unite will be consulting with our members across all of Ford’s UK sites on our next steps. We will also be working with the Welsh government and calling on UK ministers to step in to bring pressure to bear to make Ford rethink these disastrous closure plans.”

Highlighting the importance of Ford Bridgend to the Welsh economy, Unite Wales regional secretary Peter Hughes said: “Today’s announcement by Ford is a very dark day for Wales. Our longstanding prediction that Ford had a long term plan to exit from Bridgend has finally today been exposed. The stark reality of a plant closure and the devastation that it would bring is now staring us all directly in the face.

“Ford Bridgend is absolutely central to the future success of the Welsh economy. Its closure would have an enormous impact on the wider Welsh automotive supply chain leading to thousands of additional job losses outside of Ford.

“For our members within Ford Bridgend and their families who rely on the high quality employment, today’s news could not get any worse. Our message to them today is that Unite is determined to use all of its strength and resources to try and steer Ford away from proceeding with this catastrophic decision. We will work in partnership with the Welsh government to urge Ford to explore every alternative investment strategy that could secure the future of the plant.

“Ford as a company has benefited greatly from its 40 year association with Bridgend and Wales. It has a moral obligation and duty to our country to think again. It must re-evaluate its strategy and work with us to seek a viable future for the site. If it fails to do this the economic consequences for the Welsh nation will be grave and its customer base in Wales and the across the UK will never forgive it.”

ENDS

For more information please contact Alex Flynn Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869 alex.flynn@unitetheunion.org or Glyn Conolly Unite Wales on 02920 394521 or 07974 131771 glyn.conolly@unitetheunion.org

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

 

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