Graeme Macdonald, JCB's CEO

Graeme Macdonald, JCB's CEO

Shop floor employees at UK manufacturer JCB have voted to work shorter hours for the next three months in a move aimed at saving the jobs of colleagues at risk of compulsory redundancy.

JCB said in September that a “rapid deterioration in world construction equipment markets” was being blamed for up to 400 proposed redundancies.

At that point, it started a consultation process with staff over the proposed redundancies, saying that a slowdown in recent weeks, particularly in the emerging markets, had resulted in a sharp fall in machine orders.

At the beginning of November, the company said that up to 290 more shop floor positions were are risk of redundancy.

During the first stage of consultations following that, the number of positions at risk of redundancy reduced from 290 to 235. In order to avoid compulsory redundancies, JCB and the GMB union also proposed a flexible working pattern for shop floor employees until the end of February to save more than 100 jobs.

GMB members have voted in favour of the proposal.

JCB chief executive Graeme Macdonald said, “Our shop floor colleagues are to be applauded for their actions. JCB and the GMB were determined to do everything possible to avoid compulsory redundancies through a combination of voluntary redundancies, early retirements and flexible working.

“It highlights a great team spirit at JCB and also means we can retain some vitally important skills.”

JCB GMB works convenor Gordon Richardson said, “Our members are to be congratulated on the result of the ballot. It’s a magnanimous act which is in the spirit of the approaching festive season and means that over 100 people who were under threat of compulsory redundancy will now have a much happier Christmas.”

The flexible working pattern will operate for the next three months at JCB’s UK sites in Staffordshire, at Rocester – its World HQ – JCB Heavy Products in Uttoxeter, and JCB Cab Systems in Rugeley, as well as JCB Transmissions in Wrexham in north Wales.

The standard working week at JCB is 39 hours. The number of hours worked at each site will now vary depending on production volumes but will be 34 hours or above. Employees will have the choice of either being paid for just the reduced hours worked, or being paid for the full 39-hour week and then working back the banked hours next year.

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