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'Sour and toxic' mood at car giant after cuts revealed.

Byline: bronte howard Reporter bronte.howard@walesonline.co.uk

AN EMPLOYEE at the Ford engine plant in Bridgend described the environment as "sour and toxic", with staff feeling "let down" as the company starts to cut jobs.

Following months of speculation, Ford announced on Friday that jobs will be axed at the plant through voluntary redundancy, with some employees expected to leave by the end of the year. The exact number of redundancies offered has not been confirmed, but a document seen by the Western Mail suggests it stands at about 370.

Ford said it's not considering compulsory redundancies at the Bridgend plant because it believes it will "secure an appropriate number of voluntary separations", but didn't confirm what would happen if there wasn't enough interest.

One employee described the redundancy package offered as an "insult" to staff.

A bulletin sent to staff at the plant said the redundancy package includes one week's basic pay and shift premium for each year of service before the age of 41, plus 1.5 weeks' basic pay and shift premium for each additional year of service from age 41, a special payment equivalent to 12 weeks' basic pay and shift premium and a payment for breach of contractual notice.

Members of the Ford pension scheme will also be able to access their funds earlier.

The employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: "The mood in the plant is sour and toxic due to the poor terms of the voluntary redundancy offer.

"It will only suit those who are of retirement age and have long service.

They're not going to get someone of non-retirement age, and therefore likely to still have financial commitments, to volunteer.

"The concern amongst the workforce is that the company will struggle to achieve the 370 employees and nobody seems to have any answers as to how they will manage it if not."

It was revealed last month that the Bridgend plant is expected to bear the brunt of the 1,150 job losses in the UK as Ford plans to cut jobs across Europe.

Leaked documents suggest: | 370 jobs will be cut this year through voluntary redundancy; | 450 jobs will become surplus to requirements by the time the plant ceases to make engines for Jaguar Land Rover in September 2020; and | 170 jobs will no longer be needed during the same period due to the decline in demand for the Sigma engine.

However, the employee is concerned that if Ford offers more voluntary redundancies in the future, the redundancy package as it stands would not entice younger employees to accept.

He said: "There are quite a lot of people in the plant who are at or approaching retirement age and the only sweetener Ford has included in the offer is early access to your pension, so that may entice enough older people to go as this initial package is aimed mainly at them.

"But even if they do achieve the numbers in this first round of voluntary redundancies, the bigger question is how will they achieve the numbers going forward for the second and third round of voluntary redundancies? "The concern is that unless the company offers substantially better terms in the next rounds of voluntary redundancies, they're not going to get someone that is of non-retirement age to actually volunteer. "So again, the question that is raised is, will there be compulsory redundancies?" The full statement from Ford reads: "We are introducing a voluntary separation programme for hourly and salaried employees as part of our actions to create a sustainably profitable business in Europe.

"The programme follows discussions with the union on matching the plant's labour requirements to the projected production volume expectations in the near term.

"We anticipate that the majority of employees who apply and are selected for voluntary separation under this programme will leave Ford employment in the third and fourth quarters of 2019.

"No [there aren't plans to move to compulsory separations] as we believe we will be able to secure an appropriate number of voluntary separations."

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Ford Bridgend is the third largest employer in Wales
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 6, 2019
Words:684
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