Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has vowed that Unite will fight to secure a viable future for the Ford Bridgend plant.
Ford bosses have outlined plans to scale back production over the next five years – resulting in the potential loss of over 1,100 jobs.
McCluskey was clear that there was “no doubt” that Brexit had played a factor in Ford’s decision.
His statements came after documents were leaked to the BBC showing that Ford is projecting reducing 1,160 workers at the plant by 2021, leaving 600 workers.
At a meeting with Ford yesterday, involving Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, Unite Wales secretary Andy Richards, Unite shop stewards and Ford management, it was confirmed that the automaker does not have a replacement business plan for the Jaguar engine.
Production will cease for the Jaguar engine at Bridgend by 2020. The current Sigma engine production of 511,000 a year is set to be replaced by the Dragon engine of which Unite understands Ford is planning to produce 125,000 a year.
Following the meeting McCluskey reiterated the workforce’s understandable anger.
He said, “Ford workers at Bridgend have every right to feel angry over the company’s behaviour. This loyal workforce and their union have been kept in the dark over recent months.
“But the focus now has to be saving these jobs.
“Over the coming days we will be consulting our members on our next steps, but they can be assured that Unite will use all its might to fight for the future of Bridgend.
“We will not allow Ford to walk away from its responsibilities. 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.”
There’s no doubt that Brexit is a clear factor here. Before the meeting McCluskey told ITV today that Brexit ‘no doubt’ had played a role in Ford’s presumptive plans to cull jobs but he emphasised Ford’s plans aren’t “happening next week” – much can be done to intervene.”
He added that, “There’s a three-year period in terms of the transition from the Sigma engine to the Dragon engine,” he said, adding that he had met with the president of Ford Europe and is in discussions over various options that would ensure a future for the Bridgend plant.
“We’ll be able to explain that to our members and get their guidance,” McCluskey noted. “We will be fighting for their future and the future of this community,” he told reporters.
And McCluskey made it crystal clear that the government must act.
“I appeal again to the Westminster government and Theresa May to make it categorically clear without delay that there will be tariff-free access to the single market and customs union, because the uncertainty the UK’s automotive sector is enduring is having damaging real life consequences now, before talks have even begun.
“The prime minister must act now to because the very future of UK manufacturing, including car making, is at stake,” he concluded.
A series of mass meetings with Ford Bridgend workers is being held throughout the day and into this evening.