JCB,
© Michael Spring

JCB has said that up to 950 jobs are at risk due to a 50% drop in global demand, as construction union Unite calls the announcement ‘a slap in the face’ for hardworking staff

On Friday (15 May), JCB wrote to its employees to reveal that up to 950 staff roles could face redundancy at its ten plants in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Wrexham and that a 45-day consultation period will begin.

JCB also said it would dismiss a further 500 agency staff.

The announcement comes as the firm faces severe disruption because of Covid-19.

The company said the decision to restructure the business had been tough, but that they had no other choice.

JCB’s chief executive officer, Graeme Macdonald, said: “In 2020 we had planned to sell and produce more than 100,000 machines. With so much global uncertainty, that figure right now is looking more like 50,000 machines.

“In the UK, around 85% of everything we manufacture is exported and our UK factories will now produce machines at half the rate we had planned just a few months ago. As a result, we have no choice but to align our cost base to demand for the rest of the year.

“It is deeply regrettable that we have had to take these steps to restructure the business and that it will have an impact on so many people. No business could have anticipated the scale of the Covid-19 crisis and its economic consequences.

“We have had to act quickly for the long-term survival of the business, which has been at the heart of our decision-making throughout this difficult period.”

‘A slap in the face’

Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner, said: “JCB is preparing to throw 1,500 workers under the bus just as the government asks employers to pay their fair share towards protecting jobs and keeping the heads of loyal workers above water.

“A major Tory party donor and big supporter of the prime minister – the company seems to be turning its back on measures personally tailored by Boris Johnson and chancellor Rishi Sunak to help the very people that have made JCB a household name here and overseas.

“If this is the case, this a personal slap in the face for the prime minister by a company that has lavished large sums on the Tory party and provided the forum for his bizarre election stunt when he smashed through a polystyrene ‘wall’.

“Boris Johnson should be on the phone this afternoon seeking guarantees that JCB will save those jobs and use the JRS in the way it was designed to protect workers, their families and communities.”

Turner added: “JCB’s announcement is an indication of a much deeper problem however. As the prime minister prepares to make that call, he should line up others to follow as part of the broader national drive to support UK manufacturing.

“We are in desperate need of a clear plan and post-Covid-19 strategy from government to support UK Plc. Building resilience in our lost supply chains, re-shoring jobs and protecting skills alongside regional economies.

“This is exactly what JCB should be doing to save these jobs. It’s a major exporter as well as domestic supplier and needs to play its part during this national emergency to safeguard manufacturing jobs, bring home its supply chains and spearhead a post-pandemic recovery.”

Please note: Unite does not represent the employees of JCB. The recognised union at JCB is the GMB.

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