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article imageFord to shut engine plant in UK with the loss of 1,700 jobs

By Karen Graham     Jun 6, 2019 in Business
Bridgend - Ford Motors' engine plant in Bridgend in South Wales is set to close in September of 2020, with the loss of 1,700 jobs. The company cited declining sales of gasoline engines and the end of a contract with Jaguar Land Rover for the closure.
Ford's European president, Stuart Rowley, said "changing customer demand and cost disadvantages, plus an absence of additional engine models for Bridgend going forward make the plant economically unsustainable in the years ahead," reports CTV News Canada.
Union officials were told of the plan at a meeting with Ford bosses that included an offer of redeployment. Workers were sent home with a letter explaining they would lose their jobs beginning in phases on September 25, 2020, according to The BBC.
Rowley said the company will have an "enhanced separation program," including help for employees to get new jobs or start their own businesses. Ford expects to book charges of about $650 million in relation to the closure with about two-thirds of that figure being used for employee compensation.
In a statement, Ford of Europe president Stuart Rowley said: "Creating a strong and sustainable Ford business in Europe requires us to make some difficult decisions, including the need to scale our global engine manufacturing footprint to best serve our future vehicle portfolio."
Rowley added later that the decision had nothing to do with Brexit although he realized the company's plans would be "very significant for the employees, their families and the community in South Wales."
Ford and its rivals face huge challenges  including the switch to electric vehicles
Ford and its rivals face huge challenges, including the switch to electric vehicles
Grotesque act of economic betrayal
The leader of the UK's second largest union described Ford’s decision as a “grotesque act of economic betrayal.” Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said his organization would fight the closure, reports CNBC.
"The fact remains that it is cheaper, easier and quicker to sack our workers than those in our competitor countries," he said.
“These workers and this community have stayed faithful to Ford, as have U.K. customers — this is still Ford’s largest European market — through thick and thin, but have been treated disgracefully in return by this company,” he added.
Introducing the smartest Ford SUV ever. The 2019 Ford Edge.
Introducing the smartest Ford SUV ever. The 2019 Ford Edge.
Ford Motors
An electric move in the making?
Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said he knew it was an "extremely worrying and uncertain time for Ford workers, their families in Bridgend and the surrounding communities".
"The UK government will work closely with Ford, the trade unions and the Welsh Government, to make sure this highly-valued workforce can move into new skilled employment."
Cairns has been in touch with the Welsh Economy Minister Ken Skates about exploring the production of electric vehicles as a means of protecting jobs in the Bridgend area, according to The BBC. Skates said the Welsh Government would provide a "rapid response task force to support workers."
"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," Skates added.
More about Ford Motors, engine plant, Bridgend plant, gasoline engines, declining sales
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