Nationalise Ford Bridgend if the company closes the plant - an appeal to Mark Drakeford

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After months if not years of rumours and speculation, which have shredded the nerves of workers and their families, Ford has announced the closure of the Bridgend Engine Plant after nearly 40 years of production.

This is a catastrophe for these 1700 workers, their families and communities and the whole Welsh economy. The message that must be immediately sent by the unions and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in Cardiff and Westminster to Ford and the Tory government is that the plant will not be allowed to close. Ford has taken £140 million of public money but that money has bought no loyalty.

We call on the Labour-run Welsh Assembly Government to tell Ford that the plant will be nationalised to save jobs and communities if it goes ahead with the closure. Jeremy Corbyn must give the commitment that a Labour government led by him will take it into public ownership. This would put huge pressure on the weak and divided Tory government to intervene.

In 1971, a previous Tory government nationalised Rolls-Royce, and months later was forced to intervene when workers at the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders conducted a working occupation and 80,000 marched in solidarity. Honda workers in Swindon and steelworkers in Scunthorpe are facing the same scenario and support the call for nationalisation to save jobs.

Rob Williams, Chair of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and former convenor at Swansea Ford says, "A mass campaign from the workforce on the Bridgend shopfloor and workers in the related companies that depend on the Engine Plant that make the components and provide services could force a change in the situation. If a determined programme of industrial action is spelt out, it can give workers confidence to fight and build the pressure on the company and the politicians.

"The Ford unions have already threatened a national strike ballot if Bridgend is closed. This must be prepared immediately. A national meeting of Ford shop stewards should meet with plant meetings throughout the company’s sites. This is the best way to undermine any Ford ‘divide and rule’ tactics.

"The best way to protect the other sites is to fight to keep Bridgend open. The lesson of the last 20 years is that every plant closure makes others easier and more likely. In 2000, there were over 50,000 Ford UK workers but now only a fifth of that remain in work. In Bridgend right now, there will be workers from closed plants such as Treforest, Swansea and Southampton. There is nowhere else to go. A national strike would send a clear message of defiance, as would an immediate stoppage at the plant. Ford should be told, that the plant will stop if there is any attempt to move out machinery and equipment."

But is it possible to win? There are no guarantees but it will close if there isn’t a fight. Only three years ago, Port Talbot Steelworks looked like it was going to close but it proved impossible to close politically with a divided Tory government in the midst of the EU Referendum. We have to make it politically impossible to close Bridgend Engine Plant now. Support the Ford workers.