Ford confirm Bridgend engine plant ‘to close in 2020’ with loss of 1,700 jobs

Ford Bridgend

Ford’s engine plant in Bridgend will close in September 2020, union sources have said, with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

Union officials are being told details of the plans at a meeting with Ford bosses which include the offer of redeployment of workers to other sites.

The company is understood to be blaming “under utilisation” and cost disadvantage compared with other sites.

Ford will make an official announcement later, with workers arriving at the plant saying they were “devastated”.

The plant employs workers from across south Wales and many more in companies supplying goods and services to it. The GMB union said closure would “mean disaster”.

Tony Phillips, who has been at the plant for 31 years, said: “I’m expecting to lose my job this morning.”

He added: “These are good, well-paid jobs.”

Fellow worker Mark Lendrum said he was “devastated”, adding: “South Wales is going to be like a ghost town.”

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said on Wednesday evening that he was in ongoing dialogue with the company.

The closure news comes just months after Ford said it was cutting its Welsh workforce by 1,000, with 370 going in a first phase.

Investment in the new Dragon engine was scaled back, while production of an engine for Jaguar Land Rover is due to end this year.

There has already been concern about whether the plant would be viable making only 125,000 Dragon petrol engines a year.

commenting about the closure, Ian Price, CBI Wales Director said: “The planned closure of Ford’s Bridgend plant is a blow to the lives of all who work there and in its supply chains, as well as to the Welsh economy.

“The workers must be given every help in re-training, upskilling and finding new opportunities. Despite the bad news, we welcome that Ford recognises its obligations and is proposing a plan to ease the impact.

“The Welsh Government and Westminster must do all in its power to sustain manufacturing in our country, and support industries under threat from a range of challenges, from automation to a slowing global economy.”

Speaking about the announcement, Richard Gane, director and automotive sector specialist at management consultancy, Vendigital, said: “This is dire news for the UK automotive industry and will have a knock-on effect across the domestic supply chain. Despite the heavy job losses at the Bridgend engine plant, some jobs have recently been displaced to the Midlands, due to Jaguar Land Rover commencing production of its Ingenium engine family at Wolverhampton.

“To what degree the decision to close the Bridgend plant is down to Brexit is less certain, however. Demand for diesel-engine cars has fallen away significantly across Europe and sales of plug-in EVs have only recently begun to pick up strongly – reaching record levels in March this year.

“For plants producing petrol or diesel engines, there is an urgent need to make adjustments by decreasing production capacity whilst investing in new areas of production such as electric engines, motors and batteries.

“Many global OEMs are struggling to re-balance their business models in a shifting climate and while sales of plug-in EVs are up, they still only represent just over 3% of total European new car sales – they are not yet a mainstream alternative to combustion-engine vehicles.”