Ford has confirmed plans to close its engine plant in Bridgend next year, with the loss of 1,700 jobs.
The company blamed the ending of a contract with Jaguar Land Rover and a fall in sales of petrol engines amid huge changes in the car industry, stressing that the decision was not related to Brexit.
The 40-year-old plant in South Wales will close in September 2020, affecting jobs in companies supplying goods and services to the plant, and delivers another huge blow to the UK motor industry following news that Honda is to shut its factory in Swindon, while other firms are cutting back.
One worker told the BBC before the news was confirmed that he was “devastated” by the speculation, adding: “South Wales is going to be like a ghost town.”
Union sources said Ford bosses spent much of the meeting explaining how much cheaper it was to build engines at its plant in Mexico compared with Bridgend.
The Bridgend site opened in 1980, covers an area of 60 acres, and is one of Wales’s major employers. It has been manufacturing engines for 40 years.
The factory has been under threat because of falling demand for the two engines it makes, and lower projections for the Dragon engine it is scheduled to start making this year.
GMB regional organiser Jeff Beck said: “We’re hugely shocked by today’s announcement, it’s a real hammer blow for the Welsh economy and the community in Bridgend.
“Regardless of today’s announcement, GMB will continue to work with Ford, our sister unions and the Welsh Government to find a solution to the issue and to mitigate the effects of this devastating news.”
Workers were being given the news at briefings inside the plant and are then expected to leave for the day.
The news comes as Honda prepares to shut its Swindon plant in 2021, while fellow Japanese car-maker Nissan reversed a decision to build its new X-Trail vehicle at its Sunderland plant.
Jaguar Land Rover, owned by India’s Tata Motors, is also cutting jobs.
Ford also has another engine plant in Dagenham, Essex, and a plant making transmissions in Halewood, Liverpool.
Ford announced last month that it was cutting 7,000 white collar jobs worldwide, with up to 550 expected in the UK.