Workers at a factory in Ammanford were said to have been left in tears after being told by their employer not to speak Welsh.

Employees at car seat manufacturer Pullmaflex were told English was the only language that should be used during working time, according to a report by the Welsh Language Commissioner, Aled Roberts.

He said the instruction caused upset and anger amongst staff members who had been using the Welsh language for over thirty years at the factory.

Two factory employees contacted the Welsh Language Commissioner over their employers, leading to a full statutory investigation.

The company has reportedly since apologised.

A look at the Welsh language:

Mr Roberts determined that the group, Leggett & Platt Automotive, which Pullmaflex is part of, had interfered with workers' freedom to use the Welsh language after the company confirmed that English was the preferred language of the business and that it had asked Welsh speakers to avoid using the language in the workplace.

A number of Polish speakers who had used the Polish language at the site for the past three years were also upset after being told to speak in English during work hours, even though several were unable to converse in the language.

The company said the main reason behind the decision was health and safety concerns and that it wanted to create an inclusive culture.

But Commissioner Mr Roberts said: "A number of people working at the site are Welsh speakers, and it is natural that they speak Welsh with each other at work. The instruction to use English caused them to feel angry and nervous about using the language.

“The company did not submit evidence which convinced me that there were any health and safety concerns which justify the imposition of a blanket ban on the use of Welsh; and I don’t accept that the Welsh language is a barrier to inclusive culture. On the contrary, the investigation has shown that the company's instruction created the opposite effect of alienating Welsh speakers."

 

The commissioner's investigation concluded that the company's primary reason for the ban was because it wanted to avoid a situation where evidence of comments in another language could not be used as part of a formal investigation. 

"This appears to be the company's true objective rather than any concern about health and safety and the exclusion of staff members from conversations about work that they didn't understand," reads the report.

The company's manager James Handyman earlier told the BBC that it had apologised to staff after hearing that it caused upset and that the request had been made because of health and safety reasons and concerns relating to Eastern European workers in the factory.

"It didn't occur to us it would create any offence to our Welsh speaking staff. When it became apparent, we issued an apology," Mr Handyman said.

The investigation advised the company to retract its previous statement and recognise the official status of the Welsh language.

The commissioner also said that the company 'should state in a policy document that it will not interfere with individuals' freedom to use the Welsh lanuage.'

WalesOnline has contacted Pullmaflex for comment.