Focus on Ford in possible union action

Posted on 8 Feb 2017 by Fred Tongue

The Unite union has set Ford a two week ultimatum to come up with a five-year plan for their plant in Bridgend.

The Unite union set Ford this ultimatum due to Ford’s announcement five-months ago that the automotive giant plans to cut back investment in the new Dragon engine. Despite saying it was cutting investment Ford did say that the 1,850 workers at the plant would not be affected.

Len McCluskey, general secretary candidate for Unite, met with shop stewards and managers to try to determine what would be an acceptable five-year plan.

Speaking to BBC Wales, McCluskey said he wants assurances about the future of the plant but hoped that it would not come to industrial action. 

“There is a fair amount of pessimism about what the company plans,” said Mr McCluskey. “Is there a hidden agenda to close the plant?

“We want them to demonstrate that there isn’t and that they’re working hard for product replacement and we’ll work hard with them.”

If there is not a response from Ford then a mass meeting will be held on March 1.

in 2015 it was announced that the plant in Bridgend would produce the firm’s new Dragon petrol engines, with the goal of manufacturing 250,000 engines a year. The Wlesh Government promised £15m in state aid on the condition that 500 jobs would be secured.

Economy Secretary Ken Skates told the Senedd the Welsh Government would work with all stakeholders to ensure the factory had a future.

The plant currently produces 750,000 engines a year, 500,000 for Ford and 250,000 for Jaguar Land Rover. The engines are Ford’s Sigma engines, with production of these engines scheduled to stop in 2018.

Last September, Ford announced Dragon production would be cut to 125,000 engines a year and investment would reduce from £181m to £100m.

The car manufacturer said there had been “fluctuations” in global demand and predicted that the number of new engines required would be “much lower than orignally planned. Ford did say, however, that the 1,850 strong workforce would not be affected.

Bridgend has the capacity to capacity to triple the amount of engines the the original Dragon deal offered and concerns have been raised by unions that it could be the start of a winding down operation at the plant.

Mr McCluskey said it starts to raise “serious doubts” about whether a plant of this size could be sustained producing such small volumes.