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Both Chris Elmore MP and I are seeking an urgent meeting with Fords UK management and unions to discuss the future of Fords Bridgend, and to seek assurances on the long-term commitment and investment plans of Ford UK.
I raised an Urgent Question in the Senedd on the matter – (see attached video link and below written copy of contribution), and Chris Elmore MP will be raising the matter with Ministers in Parliament. The Labour Welsh government has a strong history of investment to protect the jobs at Ford Bridgend, but we also want the UK government to give the same reassurances to our Welsh automotive workers as they have rightly given to those in plants in other parts of the UK.
TEXT VERSION OF URGENT QUESTION
““Diolch, Lywydd, and can I thank you for granting this urgent question today? It is a matter that’s caused a lot of concern, but can I say the concerns are not new only today, based on these press reports; they’ve been ongoing for some time? I thank the Cabinet Secretary for, first and foremost, recognising the skills, the loyalty and the sacrifices that the workforce have made already in terms of making this plant productive. But, as we can see from the reports over the weekend, there may be an even bigger task ahead. I think it’s incumbent on all of us as regional Assembly Members, and as a constituency Member with hundreds of the workforce employed within my constituency and their families depending on them, that we make sure that there is a long-term future. And this idea of actually bringing together the workforce and the unions, who are representing their members there on the ground, on the shop floor and on the production floor, with management so that we can talk very hard-nosed about what we need to do to make this the go-to plant of Ford in Europe and worldwide—so that the productivity that they hit will be the one that means that Ford’s management globally will say, ‘The next investment will come to Ford Bridgend.’
We know that this is not imminent. We know we have breathing space until 2020-21. The Jaguar engine is coming to the end of its life. We have some investment but not the investment that we wanted on the Dragon engine, but that is good as well. It is surely now that all of us—Welsh Government, ourselves as Assembly Members, the workforce, the unions and the management—need to be sitting down around the table and saying, ‘How do we make this the plant that will bring that investment in?’ So, I have three specific questions. One is: what can the Welsh Government do, beyond what’s been laid out already, to actually facilitate those productive, constructive talks—hard-nosed talks they will be—so that all players around the table agree on a plan to go forward. Does he agree that we need to be doing that now? Because if the investment decisions that we need to secure the future of this plant will be put into place in 2020 and 2021, they need to be taken in the months and the year ahead.
Thirdly, what do we know now—these months later—about the UK Government guarantees that were given to another plant within the UK, quite rightly, about the insecurities, post Brexit? What do we know about that? And do we know that those same guarantees are being extended to the workers in Ford Bridgend as well, because they damn well should be—pardon my French, Presiding Officer. They really should be given those same guarantees. So, please, we know the investment that’s come over many years from the Welsh Government into this plant, we know the efforts that the workforce has put in, but it seems we have a mountain to climb in very short order. We should all be working together to make sure that we climb this mountain and we have a productive future for this plant and for the workers—there are hundreds of them within my constituency.”