Robin Roberts reports.
Ford Bridgend Engine Plant will lose the JLR (Jaguar Land Rover) engine build contract in three years.
The plant has been making V8 and V6 engines for JLR since 1990 when it was part of the Ford Group, but continued after purchase of the luxury brands by Tata.
Now Ford has said it has told GMB & Unite of the JLR plant and it will “continue to look at other high technology opportunities for Bridgend in the future”, and this is thought to relate to hybrid powertrains for Ford and possibly other manufacturers.
Ford said in a statement about the JLR announcement, “Given our long-established and successful relationship in the delivery of world-class engines, this is disappointing news for the Ford Bridgend Engine Plant.”
JLR is ending the long-standing relationship in September 2020, three months earlier than planned.
Around 750 workers, just under half of the plant’s total, are dedicated to JLR production but Ford operates a highly flexible working system and can transfer line-workers if required.
JLR, owned by India’s Tata Motors, opened a new engine plant in the West Midlands in 2014 and in 2015 announced a plan to double its size, taking total investment to about £1 Billion.
The company said that in line with its contract it had served the required three years notice to Ford for the supply of the V6 and V8 cylinder petrol engines from its Bridgend plant.
“Ford has been, and remains, an important strategic supplier to Jaguar Land Rover under an agreement which was negotiated to support our business until the end of the decade,” said JLR.
In a statement, GMB, the union for motor industry workers, has demanded an urgent meeting with the Wales Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates following today’s Ford Bridgend announcement.
Jeff Beck, GMB Regional Organiser, said, “The news we most feared been announced in Bridgend today. The result could see over 1,100 jobs lost in Ford Bridgend alone.
“Unless alternate contracts are found, this will have a devastating and far reaching impact on the communities in and around Bridgend as well as across South Wales as a whole. We will be working alongside our colleagues in Unite and the Welsh Government to find alternative work for the plant.”
Economy Secretary, Ken Skates, said, “Jaguar Land Rover’s decision to terminate its contract with Bridgend Ford three months early is very disappointing. “We are calling on JLR to confirm that this move will not sacrifice jobs in Wales and displace them to the West Midlands.
“We remain absolutely committed to doing all we can to protect the Ford plant in Bridgend and continue to be in close contact with the company and the unions.
“The First Minister and I recently met senior Ford and Union representatives to discuss the long term future of the plant and have initiated a working group to explore all possibilities for the future of the facility.
“I also recently travelled to Cologne to meet senior Ford officials and discuss the competitiveness of the site, while senior Welsh Government officials are in discussions with UK Government and the Automotive Investment Organisation to investigate complementary uses of the Bridgend site to secure future investment.”