Ford Bridgend workers 'willing to strike' plant closure

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Media caption"South Wales is going to be like a ghost town"

More than 1,000 workers at Ford's Bridgend engine plant have said they are prepared to strike if the firm does not reverse its decision to close the site, according to a union.

The factory is due to shut in autumn 2020 with the loss of 1,700 jobs.

Ford blamed "changing customer demand and cost" for the closure, and denied Brexit was a factor.

Unite union balloted members to see if they would be prepared to strike, with 1,031 voting in favour and 207 against.

"They are willing to take on Ford and fight hard to secure a future for their world-class plant," Unite Wales regional secretary Peter Hughes said.

"The consultative ballot clearly demonstrates that the workforce are not prepared to lie down and quietly accept their fate.

"They are not prepared to let Ford deliver an act of unprecedented industrial sabotage, the ramifications of which would be devastation of the Bridgend area and the Welsh automotive supply chain."

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Media captionThe story of Ford in Bridgend

The closure news comes months after Ford said it was cutting its Welsh workforce by 1,000, with 370 going in a first phase.

Investment in a new petrol engine, called Dragon, was scaled back, while production of an engine for Jaguar Land Rover is due to end this year.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has held talks with the company over its planned closure.

He tweeted: "Today I spoke to senior Ford executives to again express my disappointment about the decision to close the Bridgend Plant and press them to reconsider.

"The conversation was constructive, with an emphasis on the need to support the workforce and wider community, as well as identifying opportunities for the future."

Ford Bridgend

In numbers

  • 1,700workers

  • £3.3bnvalue to Welsh economy over 10 years

  • £140mWelsh Government support

  • £45,000average annual salary

Source: Welsh Government/Unite

Timeline to closure

2008: Ford announces it will operate as a single global company - meaning its Bridgend engine plant had to compete with the firm's other factories across the world, not just in Europe

2015: Bridgend secures investment for Dragon petrol engine project - with 250,000 engines a year, although it has capacity for 750,000 a year

2016: The planned Dragon investment is reduced to £121m and the number of engines is cut in half to 125,000

2017: Ford projects a reduction of 1,160 workers by 2021 and confirms production of Jaguar Land Rover engines - which involves half the workforce - will end in 2020

2018: Workers making Jaguar engines face a five-day shutdown as a knock-on effect from JLR's temporary production halt. Ford's European boss warns a no-deal Brexit would be "pretty disastrous"

Jan 2019: Ford plans to cut 370 jobs the first phase of redundancies which will total 990 by 2021. The Dragon project was scheduled to employ about 500

June 2019: Ford announces it plans to close the plant in September 2020, citing three reasons - the phasing out of one engine model, the end of the Jaguar Land Rover contract and a decline in the demand for the new three-cylinder engine

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