Ford is planning to cut more than 1,000 jobs in the UK over two years, with more than half the workforce at its Bridgend plant in south Wales likely to be axed.
Union stewards were briefed on the likely scale of job losses in the UK on Friday, 24 hours after Ford joined Jaguar Land Rover in giving notice of widespread job losses as part of a complete overhaul of its struggling European operations.
The US carmaker is understood to be planning 1,150 jobs cuts, including 1,000 at its Bridgend engine plant, with the rest falling at its transport division, affecting lorry drivers around the country. This level of redundancies would account for more than half of Bridgend’s 1,950-strong workforce.
Britain’s largest trade union Unite vowed to fight against any compulsory redundancies. “It is a devastating blow for our members and their families, as well as having grave implications for the Welsh economy and the supply chain,” said Des Quinn, Unite’s national officer for the automotive industry.
“There are a number of factors behind this grim news – the main ones being challenging market conditions for carmakers generally, a lack of a coherent industrial strategy from the UK government and the uncertainty created by Brexit.
“Over the last two decades the UK car industry has experienced a renaissance of which we can all be proud of.
“The challenge for government, the carmakers and the unions in the near future is to fight very hard to maintain the environment that made that success possible.”
Jo Stevens, the Labour MP for Cardiff Central, said Ford’s decision was “awful news for Bridgend and the whole of south Wales”.
Ford is overhauling its European operations in an attempt to increase profit margins, including shutting down loss-making vehicle lines.
The US carmaker is to abandon the multivan market – vehicles with more than five seats – stop manufacturing automatic transmissions in Bordeaux from August, review its operations in Russia and combine the headquarters of Ford UK and Ford Credit to a site in Dunton, Essex.
Details of large-scale job cuts at Ford follow hard on the heels of Jaguar Land Rover’s announcement that it plans to reduce its workforce by 4,500, the majority via voluntary redundancies in UK management roles at sites including Coventry and Gaydon.
JLR has suffered because of falling Chinese demand and a fall-off in diesel sales after the Dieselgate emissions-rigging scandal, which has led several cities and countries to impose punitive taxes on cars powered by the fuel.
Ford and JLR have also warned that the longer-term future for the British car industry remains uncertain because of Brexit. The Japanese carmaker Honda said on Thursday that it will shut down its Swindon factory for six days in April, following the planned Brexit departure date on 29 March.