Today, Thursday 06/06/2019 an announcement will be made as to whether 1,700 jobs at the Ford factory, Bridgend will be lost.
This will be a hammer blow to Bridgend and especially to the workers at the plant who have been loyal employees, some for as long 30 years.
Ford’s planned closure of Bridgend, which was first reported by ITV News, comes amid steep cost-cutting at the US carmaker.
In January, the global car and parts maker announced widespread job losses across its European operations, saying it would consider closing plants.
Last month, it announced plans to cut about 7,000 jobs worldwide, or 10% of its global salaried workforce, including about 550 in the UK.
The company outlined plans to save around £471million ($600million) per year by eliminating bureaucracy and increasing the number of workers reporting to each manager.
In the US, around 2,300 jobs will go.
It is understood 1,500 people have already been dismissed.
Ford said the cuts represented 10 percent of its global salaried workforce and 20 percent of its management positions.
Last month, the carmaker unveiled better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter of this year.
For the period of January to March 2019, the car maker posted a quarterly net profit of $1.15 billion (£906m).
It is understood the meeting has been called in the past 24 hours and senior managers from Ford in the United States will be present, as well as union leaders from the company’s other UK sites.
Meanwhile the GMB Union has stated it will be “disaster” if its “worst fears” are confirmed by the motoring giant.
GMB regional organiser Jeff Beck, said yesterday: “We haven’t as yet had any confirmation of any closure, but we can confirm we’re meeting with Ford tomorrow and a new agenda has been arranged, which we’re yet to see.
A spokesman for Unite, which represents many of the workers in Bridgend, said: “Unite will be meeting Ford first thing tomorrow morning and will comment further once the details of any announcement are known. Our priority is our members’ jobs, the communities and livelihoods in the supply chain that Ford Bridgend supports.”
Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, said the government must meet Ford urgently to secure the plant’s future.
“This is worrying news, first and foremost for Ford employees and their families who are left unsure as to their futures, but also for the jobs across the supply chain and the impact on the local economy in Bridgend,” she said.
Bridgend AM and former First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “Nobody would have thought before yesterday that this plant would close completely.
“Yes, there were challenges in terms of jobs, but there were also opportunities,” he told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast with Claire Summers.
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said closure would be “one of the most bitter blows” for the Welsh economy for more than 30 years.
“Ford is the jewel in the crown of the car industry – which is the hardcore of our manufacturing sector – so the implications of this in terms of the supply chain in terms of job losses is very, very grave indeed.”
Bethan Sayed, a Plaid Cymru member of the Welsh assembly, said there was “no disguising or minimising the damage a closure will do”.
She said: “The Bridgend plant is a hallmark of the Welsh industrial landscape and a flagship anchor company with a highly skilled and specialised workforce.”
Mr Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales said he had been in touch with Welsh Economy Minister Ken Skates and said the automotive sector was going through a period of structural change towards electric vehicles.
“We’re determined to do what we can to protect the future employment in that area in this exciting sector,” he added.
Mr Skates said the Welsh Government would provide a “rapid response taskforce to support workers” in the event of the plant’s closure.
He said: “There has been a lot of speculation over the future of Ford for some time now and, during that period, the Welsh Government has been in discussions with the UK government in attempting to capture alternate employment and to land some major projects in Bridgend.”
Since 1978 about £140m in taxpayers’ money has been invested in the plant, he said.
“That has been money well spent because, just in the last decade alone, £3bn has been pumped back into the Bridgend economy by the Ford plant.
“What we have repeatedly said to Ford over recent months and years is that Wales stands ready, it is perfectly situated and positioned to help businesses,” he said.
Gwlad Gwlad (Ein Gwlad) comment
The response to this situation is quite telling considering the fact Ford announced in January it planned to cut thousands of jobs globally, including some of those in the UK.
For the politicians in Westminster and the Cardiff Bay bubble this is the perfect storm in a teacup scenario to spout their virtue signalling and soundbite politics.
Most curious to me is the response by former First Minister, Carwyn jones. He says: “Nobody would have thought before yesterday that this plant would close completely.”
Pull the other one, Carwyn. As First minister you must have had some knowledge of these plans.
Jones’s credibility, however, has been shattered lately due to the exposure of the levels he went to, to cover up his wrong doings over the sad passing of Carl Sargant, whilst he was First Minister.
Others such as Plaid leader, Adam Price and regional AM, Bethan Sayed had their say, but the response from Welsh Economy Minister, Ken Skates was the typical virtue signalling we’ve come to expect.
He said the Welsh Government would provide a “rapid response taskforce to support workers” in the event of the plant’s closure.
In the same breath he says “There has been a lot of speculation over the future of Ford for some time now and, during that period, the Welsh Government has been in discussions with the UK government in attempting to capture alternate employment and to land some major projects in Bridgend”
This begs the question did he and the Welsh Government try to save these jobs? Obviously not as it appears it was done deal a long time ago and Skates and chums went to Westminster cap in hand.
What the hell is a rapid response taskforce to support wokers going to do? I’ve heard of closing the gate after the horse has bolted but this takes the piss.
They new for a while these jobs were going, and they sat on it hoping Westminster would throw them a bone.
The reality of what’s happening in Bridgend now is this is what happens when an economy is over reliant on inward investment.
20 years we’ve suffered with devolution. 20 years to build on the undoubted entrepreneurial spirit of Wales has been wasted, chasing and throwing good money at global private companies that should be able to sustain themselves.
Wales seriously needs to think about how it proceeds after this. How much longer will it take for the politicians down the bay to realise that basing a small economy likes Wales’ on inward investment from global multi nationals, doesn’t work particularly in Wales’ case.
Relying on Westminster to throw us a few bones just because people have lost jobs epitimises the begging bowl mentallity that Labour has perfected and is being supported by Plaid Cymru.
Wales must now plan for the post-industrial society without major employers like Ford, and even companies like Tata Steel in Port Talbot.
We must be clever and nimble, doing things for ourselves, like other small countries. This can only be done with independence.
I’ve been on the same end of that stick as the workers at Bridgend Ford, it isn’t a good place to be when you got mouths to feed, a roof to keep over your head and bills to pay.
Trust me I know!
The thought of joining the dole que after years of service to one company would leave a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, that feeling of uselessness is a difficult one to shake.
But what I will say to those workers in Bridgend is, Chin up. You are highly skilled and motivated people who will have opportunities come to you when you least expect it.
Believe me it’s not the end of the world, although I can appreciate how it might not feel that way right now.
Put faith in yourselves, plough your own furrow. It won’t be easy but it’s more than doable.
My name is Lee Felton, I’m one of the editors on Ein GWALD’s News Portal, National Secretary and Graphics Officer. I have a Valley’s working class background and I’m not afraid to say what I think. If i’m wrong, I’m wrong, and I’ll be the first to put my hand up.