Hundreds of factory workers at JCB’s Staffordshire, U.K., factories voted to work shorter hours for the next three months to avoid having the manufacturer reduce staff, according to various news reports from the U.K. The company announced last month that up to 290 factory positions might be eliminated because of softer demand in world construction markets, especially in China.
Members of the GMB union also voted in favor of a flexible working pattern that JCB and GMB proposed to save jobs. The pattern will operate for the next three months at JCB’s Rocester plant, as well as its Heavy Products unit in Uttoxeter, the JCB Cab Systems plant in Rugeley and JCB Transmissions in Wrexham.
Employees’ hours will drop from the company standard of 39 hours to 34 or higher for the next three months depending on production volumes.
“Our shop floor colleagues are to be applauded for their actions,” said JCB chief executive Graeme Macdonald. “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 referred to the ballot as a “magnanimous act which is in the spirit of the approaching festive season.”
In addition to China, where sales have dropped 47 percent in the first six months of 2015, sales fell 70 percent in Russia and 36 percent in Brazil.