South East Wales

Unite will not 'roll over' on Ford Bridgend jobs

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Media captionUnite Wales secretary Andy Richards said the union would fight any attempt to run down the plant

The main union at Ford in Bridgend has said it wants answers as to how it will keep 1,850 staff in work, while cutting the number of new engines it produces by half.

The American car giant announced this week it planned to make 125,000 new Dragon engines a year instead of 250,000 from 2018.

It blamed changes in global demand.

Unite has written to workers saying "clearly" the employment level could not be sustained on projected levels.

The engine plant currently makes 250,000 engines a year for Jaguar Land Rover but that will end in 2018.

The deal to produce the new engine has been scaled back from a £181m investment to £100m.

Andy Richards, Unite's Wales secretary, said the union had been aware a shortfall in production was likely earlier this year and had been looking for answers.

Unite said it had three questions for Ford:

  • It wants to know the level of jobs at Bridgend after it stops making the Sigma and Jaguar Land Rover engines as "clearly 125,000 of Dragon volume cannot possibly sustain an employment level of 1,850".
  • Welsh Government's £15m financial support for Dragon has a requirement to keep a minimum of 850 jobs after 2021 - can 125,000 engines a year support this?
  • It also wants to know the future product strategy for Bridgend so it can be maintained "as a major manufacturing operation in Wales".

Mr Richards, a convenor at the plant in the 1980s and 1990s, said he had witnessed "the closure of a great many plants by Ford" which had followed a reduction of investment and criticism of the workforce.

"Unite the union will never roll over and quietly accept the same fate for Bridgend," he told workers in the letter.

Mr Richards told BBC Wales he suspected decisions were not being made on "basic industrial efficiency logic" and were more about company politics, but the union was prepared for a fight if necessary.

"When I started there were 24 Ford plant in Britain. In my view, they're attempting to pull out of Britain," he said.

"It's arguable they're looking to reduce their Ford Europe operations, which will affect places like Cologne too. I think this is more to do with Ford's global repositioning strategy, which seems to favour China and Russia.

"As far as we're concerned we're concentrating on our members' jobs in Wales."

Ford said on Tuesday it did not plan job losses among the 1,850 workforce and said it still had a "substantial commitment" to the plant.

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