Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 15:10 UK

Up to 900 car plant jobs at risk

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As the firm looks for business, one option is to make parts for windfarms

The car parts manufacturer Bosch says complete closure of its south Wales plant is one of the options it will be discussing in talks with 900 staff.

The German-owned firm said a second option will be to cut 300 jobs at the site in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Bosch has made car alternators at the plant since 1991 but revealed that sales in the last year have dropped by 45% and expects the fall to continue.

Ministers have said they will meet the divisional president of the company.

Bosch warned the workforce near Miskin last month that jobs were at risk unless demand and sales improved.

Last year, the firm laid off 600 contracted and agency staff at the site.

In a statement, it said it expected that decline to continue, with sales slashed by up to 65% in 2010.

In our heart of hearts, it was felt that there could be some bad news to come
Dave Lewis, Unite

"Bosch is currently facing the worst economic downturn for many decades," said the company.

"At the same time, the automotive industry is undergoing major changes as core technologies are completely transformed.

"All this leaves its mark on the operating result of the Bosch Group and in 2009 it will be negative for the first time in the last 60 years."

The firm said that, as a consequence, "it is not possible for Bosch Cardiff to make commitments for the future under current circumstances without in-depth technical and commercial analysis".

Nick Servini
Nick Servini, BBC Wales business correspondent

The starting gun has been fired and it's a 90-day race against time for Bosch to save this plant.

It sounds odd to say that the best result is the loss of a third of the workforce.

But at least 600 jobs can be saved if they find new work from somewhere else in this huge German company.

The problem is many of the other divisions are struggling already and the Miskin plant has already lost just under a fifth of its work to Spain because it's cheaper to centralise resources there.

The big hope is that the rest won't follow.

Announcing the 90-day consultation process, Bosch outlined two options for the plant's future.

The most drastic is to close the site in 2011, if "no commercially viable new business is available".

The second option to be discussed is to make 300 redundancies and continue with a smaller operation with what is described as "new additional business".

The company said that if the jobs option was taken, it would expect people to start leaving the firm in summer 2010.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Assembly Government said ministers were actively working to secure the future of the factory.

"This is very disappointing news but we will work hard with the company throughout the consultation period to see if there is any support we can provide," said a spokesperson.

"The first minister and deputy first minister have arranged to meet the divisional president of Bosch and other senior representatives of the Bosch Group to discuss the company's position."

Location map
Bosch is situated in the M4 corridor in south Wales

Dave Lewis, the regional officer for the union Unite, said he was holding a meeting with members working at Bosch on Saturday, and would then begin talks with the company on Tuesday.

"It hasn't come as a surprise. The company made an announcement in September that there could be some structural changes," he said.

"We will be discussing how our members feel. In our heart of hearts, it was felt that there could be some bad news to come.

'Deeply concerned'

"People will be upset but they are realistic enough to know that unless car sales had picked up significantly, then we were going to face this."

He said the priority for the union and its members at Bosch was to engage the company in positive talks about the future.

"It is an experienced workforce, highly skilled, and well-managed," said Mr Lewis.

"They need to bring forward some future development, bring forward other makes of Bosch products that could sustain the plant."

Vale of Glamorgan MP John Smith said he was "deeply concerned" and wants the assembly government to do all it can to save the factory.

Jane Hutt, Vale of Glamorgan AM, said that assembly government efforts were aimed as letting the parent company know "that Wales is here for business".

She said: "We have to ensure that we go out and aggressively market what they already produce in terms of the alternator component, and also ensure they they are part of any new business.

"Wales has invested millions into this company as indeed the company has itself."



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