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Ford cuts: Over 1,000 UK workers will lose their jobs

Alanna Petroff
Senior Economics Correspondent at Yahoo Finance UK

American carmaker Ford plans to cut 1,150 jobs in the UK, the Unite union said on Friday.

Nearly 1,000 job losses are expected at Ford’s Bridgend engine plant in Wales, and the rest within Ford’s transport operations, which will affect lorry drivers, the union said in a statement.

On Thursday, Ford (F) said it will cut thousands of jobs in Europe and consider plant closures as part of a turnaround effort. It employs nearly 13,000 workers in the UK, and 40,000 staff across the rest of Europe.

The plan will result in fewer jobs – both hourly and salaried – but it is premature to speculate on how many as we have just begun discussions with our Works Council and union partners,” the company said in a statement on Thursday. Ford said the goal was to encourage voluntary employee redundancies.

Des Quinn, automotive spokesman at Unite, said: “Unite is fully committed to opposing any compulsory redundancies and campaigning strongly for Bridgend to have a viable future.”

Ford is cutting thousands of jobs across Europe. Photo: Getty Images

The UK and European automotive industry is in deep turmoil after a bruising 2018.

The UK’s biggest car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) also announced on Thursday it would cut 4,500 jobs, or about 10% of its workforce, in a bid to save money. The automaker said it would start by offering voluntary redundancies to UK workers. This comes after the company shed 1,500 jobs in 2018.

JLR, which is owned by India’s Tata Motors (TTM), employs 42,500 people in the UK and 1,500 workers in other countries.

Carmakers have been struggling recently with a huge slump in European diesel car sales, a slowdown in Chinese purchases and a tough transition to a new EU emissions-testing system.

Experts warn that the thousands of job cuts at Jaguar Land Rover and Ford could be a worrying sign of what’s to come in 2019.

“I expect there to be further job losses across the industry,” David Bailey, professor of industrial strategy at Aston University, told Yahoo Finance UK this week.

In 2019 the industry will also have to deal with the threat of a disorderly Brexit in March and the risk that US president Donald Trump could slap 25% tariffs on European cars and parts. Plus, the Chinese slowdown and diesel slump aren’t going away.

“We’re expecting a modest contraction of European production this year. But things could [get] a lot worse. We’ve got potential Trump tariffs, a potential hard Brexit and weakness in China, which could make things even worse,” warned Justin Cox, an auto sector expert and director at LMC Automotive in the UK.

Britain’s car industry employs roughly 856,000 people, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Over 13 million people in the European Union work in the automotive sector, which works out to about 6.1% of the employed population, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. 

With files from Reuters