Ford expects to cut more than 1,100 jobs at Bridgend plant by 2021

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00

Ford expects to cut more than 1,100 jobs from its Bridgend plant by 2021, bringing the future of the Welsh engine facility into doubt.

The US carmaker has set out a five-year plan for the plant that projects the loss of 1,160 staff if current contracts are not renewed.

The site makes small petrol engines for Ford as well as more powerful V6 and V8 engines for Jaguar Land Rover.

When the JLR contract expires in 2020, the company is expected to move the work to its own new engine plant at Wolverhampton – leading to the loss of hundreds of jobs at the site.

Ford also expects the site’s workforce to reduce in 2018 after lowering investment in a new engine range.

In total, these two will cause the loss of 1,100 jobs at Bridgend, according to Ford’s internal assessment – leaving just 600 staff at the facility.

Ford met with union representatives on Wednesday, where it shared the five-year report.

Len McCluskey, head of the Unite union, said: “The meeting with Ford today confirmed that the automaker does not have a replacement business plan for the Jaguar engine, which will cease production at Bridgend by 2020.

“Ford must give this plant a chance and work with Unite to secure a better future.

“We will be seeking legally binding guarantees to secure future production at the plant, as well as exploring how Bridgend’s production capacity can be fully utilised through the introduction of new lines.”

Bridgend’s long-term future depends on its ability to win new work.

When car companies build new engines, plants across the world compete for the work.

But there are concerns over Bridgend’s efficiency compared to other Ford sites, such as the Dagenham facility that makes diesel engines.

“It goes without saying, that in order to attract new business, the Bridgend operation would need to ensure its competitiveness, and addressing some of the current concerns relating to the plant’s efficiency would be high on the agenda,” said Ford in a public statement.

The company said it is forming a “joint working party with its union partners, UNITE and GMB, to identify future business opportunities”, but stressed the site will have “healthy volumes to occupy the current workforce over the next 2-3 years”.

A spokesman for JLR said: “Ford is an important strategic partner for JLR, and makes great engines.

“We have a contract with Ford to produce six- and eight-cylinder engines, and we have not served notice on that contract. It is still ongoing.”

Madeleine Moon, MP for Bridgend, told the House of Commons on Wednesday that people in the area are “deeply worried” about the potential job losses.

“Families in Ogmore and in Bridgend are particularly frightened, frightened that Ford is not going to be able to bring new contracts into the factory with the uncertainty of Brexit ahead of them”, she said during prime minister’s questions.
The prime minister replied that the UK’s automotive sector is world-class, and said ministers had been engaging with executives from the industry including Ford.

She added:

We have had dialogue with Ford, we will continue to have a regular dialogue with Ford about the ways the government can help to ensure that this success continues.
Greg Clark, the business secretary, is likely to meet the company in the coming days, according to officials.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't copy articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.