Image Credit: Mick Lobb
The impact of Brexit on businesses small and large across the UK is always a very real concern. It is amid this fear and in our current uncertain state that Ford have announced the closure of their 42-year-old Bridgend plant.
Despite these circumstances, Ford maintain that the decision has nothing to do with Brexit and cite changing customer demands and cost disadvantages as reasons for the closure. The President of Ford Europe, Stuart Rowley explained that if Brexit had never happened then their decision would have been unchanged. He went on to say that the key reason was, “the need to scale our global engine manufacturing footprint” and that there was an absence of “additional engine models for Bridgend.”
This has sparked public outcry as employees, politicians and trade unions alike feel far more can be done to sustain the plant. Economy Minister, Ken Skates, said he was, “absolutely livid” at Ford’s decision especially after the government “pumped a huge amount of money into this facility.” Meanwhile, the trade unions have demanded that Ford review and reverse the decision, and have suggested that they expected much more from the company. Scathing attacks such as these show just how damaging this decision could be for the British economy.
If the closure does indeed go through, then one thousand seven hundred jobs will be lost, starting in September of next year. There is a general feeling that the plant workers, who deserve better, have come out and said they are absolutely devastated. One even suggested that South Wales will belike a “ghost town” without the plant showing that this is far more than just an economic issue.
Despite Ford’s claim that this closure had nothing to do with Brexit, their decision comes at an interesting time. Less than four months ago, amid fears of a no deal Brexit, Ford was threatening to completely end UK production in order to preserve profitability. Amid yet more Brexit uncertainty, with the Conservative leadership up in the air it does not seem inconceivable that the two could be connected, particularly with Fords stance on the issue.
Brexit aside, Ford’s “profitability at all cost” attitude articulated less than six months ago is evident through their actions in Bridgend. They have taken this decision despite receiving over 11million pounds worth of incentives from the Welsh Government that hey will now have to return. It seems, like most other big companies, Ford have little regard for their employees and value their own profits above their wellbeing.
This is an unfortunate truth of the world we live in. This is further emphasised by the comments of Bridgend resident Huw David who said there is “not a family in Bridgend that won’t be affected by this”, going on to say that he does not know how they are going to recover from this. David and others will now need to create jobs and help people fid other work. They will then have to clean up the mess Ford will inevitably leave behind.