Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Thursday, 12 November 2009

Slump hits 260 bus builder jobs

Alexander Dennis factory in Camelon, Falkirk
The Camelon plant currently employs about 900 staff

The UK's biggest bus and coach builder, Alexander Dennis (ADL), has said 260 jobs at its Falkirk base are at risk.

The firm, which employs about 900 workers in Camelon, Falkirk, has begun a 90-day consultation with unions.

It has blamed a 50% decline in demand for new vehicles and warned the jobs could be gone by February.

The news comes after the company said negotiations with the union to reduce the working week at the plant had so far proven unsuccessful.

However, a spokeswoman for the Unite union said workers at the plant had previously agreed to a four-day week in order to save 95 jobs at the firm earlier this year.

She added that the union was due to meet ADL management in the coming days to clarify what further measures they were seeking.

ADL, which employs about 2,200 globally, has manufacturing operations in Scarborough and Anston, Sheffield, where 650 staff are based, and at Guildford, in Surrey, which has 300 workers.

A spokesman for the firm said formal talks had been ongoing with trade unions to reach agreement on the issue.

'Headcount reductions'

He said: "The forecast is that this downturn in demand will continue throughout the remainder of this year and the first quarter of 2010.

"In light of this we are reviewing options for reduced working weeks and the pulling forward of traditional holiday periods.

"If we cannot come to an agreement on these types of options then, in a craft industry, there is little option but to look at headcount reductions.

"As things stand, this could result in around 260 jobs going at our Falkirk facility and it is on this basis that we have now entered into a formal 90-day consultation process with trade unions."

The firm said bus operators had been preserving cash and delaying vehicle investment in light of the current economic slowdown.

Despite this, it said planned legislative changes and future tendering activities, particularly in London, were expected to lead to an upturn in the sector in the spring of 2010.

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