Workers speak about jobs losses in town
It's been confirmed Ford's engine plant in Bridgend will close in 2020, with the loss of 17-hundred jobs.
Union officials have been told details of the plans at a meeting with the car manufacturer's bosses.
Workers are being sent home after receiving a letter, which says they'll lose their jobs in phases from September next year.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "This news is incredibly sad for the loyal workforce at the factory, for the community of Bridgend and for those in the supply chain.
"The Welsh Government has supported the plant over many years and this decision in no way reflects on the highly skilled individuals who have given the company great service over four decades.
"The Welsh Government will do everything in its power to support those impacted by this announcement and to work with all partners to explore options for the future of the plant."
Stephen Kinnock MP for Aberavon and David Rees AM for Aberavon said: "This is a devastating blow for the South Wales economy and for the large number of workers at the plant and their families, many of whom are our constituents. We will do all we can to ensure that they are fully supported at this crucial time.
"We urge both the UK and Welsh governments to re-double their efforts to attract investors to secure alternative employment in this sector in Bridgend. This is a highly skilled workforce which has much to offer to investors.
"We also call on Ford to organise an urgent meeting with elected representatives from constituencies that are directly affected by this terrible news.
“We are available to any constituent affected by this decision and encourage them to contact our offices for advice and support if needed.”
Neath Port Talbot Council Leader Rob Jones said: “The Ford plant has been one of the cornerstones of the South Wales economy for some 40 years and a significant proportion of the workforce are residents of this County Borough. We estimate some 20% of the staff - second only to Bridgend itself, so the impact will be keenly felt in the area.
I also underline the Council’s commitment to working with the Welsh Government, Bridgend Council and other partners to ensure that employment and other support services are put in place to mitigate against the impact of the closure as quickly as possible and to the maximum extent possible.
"In addition, the Council will also be working closely with businesses in the supply chain to assist them as best we can – not only in relation to Ford; but also in response to other recent announcements in the sector such as the closure of the Honda plant in Swindon.”
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “I fully recognise that this 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.
“In my discussions with Ford management, they have confirmed that they will offer redeployment opportunities to staff while colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions are standing by to provide advice and support to others in the local area.
“The UK Government remains committed to protecting and creating jobs in Wales. We will do all we can to ensure that the skilled Welsh workforce continues to be a world leader in the automotive sector through our established programmes which are aimed at maintaining our strength and competitiveness as the nature of the industry rapidly changes.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Business, Russell George AM, said: “After an extended difficult period of uncertainty for workers in Bridgend, today’s announcement was the last news we were hoping for.
“The Welsh Government must act swiftly now to support the workers of the area, and to reassure the world that Wales continues to be a place of automotive excellence.
“With the Bridgend site closing in late 2020 the next step is to attract new business opportunities to the area for these skilled workers.”
Assembly Member for South Wales West, Suzy Davies AM, has spoken of her sadness over the closure of Bridgend Ford. Speaking after the announcement, she said:
“This is terrible news for the employees of Bridgend Ford and is a devastating blow for the whole area.
“It is crucial today that appropriate support is made available for affected employees during this difficult time. My thoughts are with the families involved, and I intend to extend my full support to those in need throughout the coming months.
“I implore the Welsh Government to do everything within its power to ensure retraining is available to these extremely skilled workers, and to help them find alternative employment with the utmost urgency.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said: “This is devastating news for workers, their families and the wider community. The effects of this decision will be felt across the Welsh economy, but nowhere as acutely as in Bridgend.
“The Welsh and UK Governments must urgently do all they can to support employees, help them find new work and protect Bridgend’s economy. However, we must accept that nothing can stop this being a dark day for Bridgend and the Welsh car industry.
“Ford Bridgend has become yet another devastating casualty of Brexit. This year we’ve already seen Honda announce the closure of its Swindon plant and several carmakers temporarily shutdown their factories. How much longer are we prepared to allow this to continue?
“This is yet more evidence we must give the people the final say and the opportunity to choose an Exit from Brexit. Only by stopping Brexit can we save jobs and protect the Welsh economy.”
Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price said: “The Bridgend Ford plant is one of the greatest and most iconic plants in UK manufacturing and a hallmark of the Welsh industrial landscape. Its skilled and loyal workforce has given forty years of service to Ford. The decision to close the plant is one of the worst acts of industrial vandalism seen in the UK for decades and will have a devastating impact on Bridgend, the wider Welsh economy and over 1,700 workers and their families.
“I am prepared to exhaust all options in order keep the Bridgend plant operational, not only in order to protect the jobs and investment it represents, but also because of how important the plant is to the Welsh economy.
“It is particularly crass and insensitive to announce this dreadful decision on the 75th anniversary of D-Day – a day on which we remember one of the greatest acts of co-operation and solidarity between Wales and the US in our shared history, and after a week in which the US President himself was in the UK talking up the importance of economic ties between the US and the UK.
“I am therefore asking if you will do me the courtesy of a meeting to discuss how we can find a better way forward for all."