Ford to close Wales plant in September 2020, risking 1,700 jobs

Daniel Fowler
June 7, 2019

Ford has come under attack from unions after announcing plans to close its engine plant in Bridgend next year, with the loss of 1,700 jobs. At the moment it builds the 1.5-litre petrol engine found in such cars as the Fiesta ST, as well as V8s for Jaguar Land Rover.

The executive added that the company needs to scale its global engine manufacturing footprint to best serve its future vehicle portfolio.

Chief Executive Mike Hawes said "Ford's challenges are not unique: economic uncertainty at home and overseas, technological change and global trade issues are stressing markets and forcing companies to review operations and make hard decisions".

Ford is hoping to conclude its negotiations with all union partners across Europe this year, he said.

The automaker says it will remain a significant employer in the United Kingdom, as it will continue building diesel engines at the Dagenham plant in east London and transmissions at the Halewood Getrag Ford Transmissions joint venture on Merseyside.

Hundreds more people are employed in businesses that supply the plant, which has been manufacturing engines in Wales for 40 years.

Unions have accused Ford of taking an "economic sledgehammer" to the Welsh economy with its decision to close its Bridgend engine plant.

The Bridgend plant, which opened in 1977, built around 20 percent of Britain's 2.7 million automotive engines past year.

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Ford said it now expects costs associated with the plant closure to reach $650 million, with approximately $400 million of the charges paid in cash as separation and termination payments for employees.

The Bridgend site opened in 1980, covers an area of 60 acres, and is one of Wales's major employers.

The same month, Nissan blamed Brexit for its decision to abandon plans to manufacture its flagship X-Trail SUV vehicle at its Sunderland plant.

Ford said in January a turnaround of its European operations would involve cutting thousands of jobs, possible plant closures and discontinuing loss-making vehicle lines.

In yet another blow for the British automotive industry, Ford seems determined to act on its warnings of moving production from the United Kingdom over a no-deal Brexit.

A Government spokesman said: "Ford's announcement today follows earlier announcements that the company has made about its ongoing global restructuring plans, nevertheless the news of their intention and consultation on closing the Bridgend plant will be very worrying for the dedicated workforce".

The U.S. automaker has also repeatedly warned the United Kingdom government that it needs free trade to be maintained with the European Union after Britain leaves the bloc, but said Thursday's announcement "has nothing to do with Brexit".

Ford said it was committed to its other British engine factory in Dagenham, east London.

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