HCME introduces temporary "work time reduction"

By Richard High23 January 2009

Hitachi Construction Machinery Europe (HCME) has announced plans to introduce "temporary work time reduction", known as WTV, for 310 direct and indirect workers at its factories in Amsterdam and Oosterhout, the Netherlands.

According to a company spokesman this will allow the company to send its employees home for a maximum period of 24 weeks, with the government paying 70% of their salaries and HCME paying the remaining 30%.

WTV is part of a government action plan to protect companies suffering cash flow and order shortfalls during the current global credit crisis, said Hitachi's spokesman, although "certain conditions" must be met. These include a minimum reduction in production of 30% and training programs for employees during the WTV period, he added.

The news follows the company's announcement that it had postponed plans to build an excavator factory in Russia due to the "sharp slide in global sales".

HCM had been planning a joint venture with its Russian sales agent TSC since the middle of last year in an effort to capitalise on the surge in demand in emerging economies for heavy construction equipment. The jv would have imported the base machines from Japan with the steelwork being manufactured locally.

'There is no urgent need to boost capacity at the moment,' said a company spokesman, adding there have been cancellations of orders from small mining companies in Russia and Eastern Europe since November 2008.

HCM has already suspended its four-year capacity expansion programme, which aimed to increase production in Japan and in emerging economies with a YEN 160 billion (US$ 1.8 billion) investment plan by March 2011.

The factory in Amsterdam manufactures 10 to 45 tonne tracked and wheeled excavators, while the Oosterhout facility produces mini-excavators

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