Wales

Unite union ultimatum to Ford over Bridgend plant

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Media captionLen McCluskey says workers want answers

The Unite union has given Ford management a two week ultimatum to produce a five-year plan for its engine factory in Bridgend.

General secretary candidate Len McCluskey met managers and shop stewards at the plant.

It is five months since Ford announced cut backs on its planned investment in the new Dragon engine but it said 1,850 workers would not be affected.

Mr McCluskey told BBC Wales he hoped it would not come to industrial action.

But he said he wants assurances about its future and added that the union would do everything it could to save the plant.

"There is a fair amount of pessimism about what the company plans," said Mr McCluskey. "Is there a hidden agenda to close the plant?

"We want them to demonstrate that there isn't and that they're working hard for product replacement and we'll work hard with them."

A mass meeting will be held on 1 March if the union does not hear from the company.

Ford announced in 2015 that Bridgend would be making its new Dragon petrol engine, with the aim of producing 250,000 engines a year.

The Welsh Government promised £15m state aid on the condition 500 jobs would be secured.

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Media captionFord Bridgend plant: Skates' pledge to ensure future

And on Tuesday, Economy Secretary Ken Skates told the Senedd the Welsh Government would work with all stakeholders to ensure the factory had a future.

The plant currently makes 250,000 engines a year for Jaguar Land Rover and also 500,000 of Ford's own Sigma engines but it is due to stop producing both in 2018.

Last September, Ford announced Dragon production would be cut to 125,000 engines a year and investment would reduce from £181m to £100m.

It said there had been "fluctuations" in global demand, predicting that required numbers of the new engine would be "lower than originally planned". However, Ford said the 1,850 workforce would not be affected.

Bridgend has a capacity to produce three times what the original Dragon deal offered and concern by unions has intensified that it signals the start of a run down of the plant.

Mr McCluskey said it starts to raise "serious doubts" about whether a plant of this size could be sustained producing such small volumes.

Image copyright Ford

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