Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Thursday, 23 October 2008 18:57 UK

JCB staff vote for shorter week

JCB headquarters, Rocester, Staffordshire
Some of the pay workers will lose will be made up by a government fund

Thousands of JCB staff have accepted a shorter working week in order to save about 350 jobs across the UK.

The GMB union said 2,500 of its members in the UK had accepted a 34-hour week by a two-thirds majority.

The firm, based in Rocester, Staffordshire, had said 500 jobs could be axed if the plan was not accepted and 150 jobs will still be cut.

JCB has 11 factories across the UK and said fewer working hours had been its preferred option.

The new working schedule is expected to start next month.

JCB said it needed to reduce output across the country by nearly 20% "to align production with current demand".

JCB workers on the shorter working week

About 430 jobs have already gone at the company in recent months.

Chief executive officer Matthew Taylor said: "The ballot result shows the tremendous unity amongst the JCB workforce and a great team spirit, which I applaud.

"They have looked after the needs of one another rather than the needs of the individual and that is to be commended."

He added: "It means we retain the fundamental strength of our workforce and this is very welcome news as it puts us in a very strong position to take advantage quickly of the upturn in the market when it comes."

The firm said last week that GMB members had two options - to agree to about 500 redundancies, which would realign production to demand, or agree to a shorter working week which would reduce redundancies by about two-thirds.

'Public works'

Speaking after the result of the ballot, the GMB said it hoped office staff would follow the lead of shop floor workers by choosing a reduction in hours.

It said the Joint Shop Stewards' Committee was pleased with the outcome.

GMB officer Keith Hodgkinson said: "I am delighted that we have been able to save 350 jobs.

"The short time is part of a worsening recession and these GMB members expect the government and the Bank of England to take the necessary steps to begin large-scale public works to at least slow the recession down and prevent it getting too deep."

The union said some of the pay the workers would lose would be made up with the help of money from a government fund.

The company said it was pleased with the vote "particularly as it will lead to a reduced number of redundancies and preserve our skills base for when the markets improve".

It added short-time working would begin at JCB's UK production facilities at the start of November for a minimum of six months.

JCB workers balloted over hours
17 Oct 08 |  Staffordshire
JCB academy would be 'top class'
13 Oct 08 |  Staffordshire

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