More than 900 jobs have been saved at digger-maker JCB after plans were drawn up to introduce a new working pattern for factory staff.
It is thought that 915 shop floor jobs were at risk of being axed at JCB’s plants in the UK as a result of the fall in demand for machines amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
But union bosses at GMB have now reached an agreement with JCB on flexible working arrangements for shop floor employees in a move which will help to safeguard hundreds of hourly-paid positions as the anticipated disruption caused by the pandemic continues in the coming months.
The announcement comes just days after JCB revealed it is axing 950 staff – and 500 agency workers.
It has since been confirmed that the 950 salaried staff at risk at JCB are all office-based.
JCB Chief Operating Officer Mark Turner said: “We have held very constructive discussions with the GMB. It is very pleasing that we have found a way forward on production flexibility because we expect disruption from the Covid-19 crisis to continue until at least the end of this year.”
The new proposals include a system of banking hours and extending shift patterns to include earlier starts and later finish times. Employees will also be guaranteed 39 hours’ basic contractual pay in any one week.
A ballot of GMB members is to be held next week on the new temporary collective agreement at JCB’s factories in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Wrexham with the result expected on Friday, May 29.
GMB members will cast their vote in person at JCB sites.
The new working arrangements will be reviewed no later than December 31, 2020 and may be extended for a further period.
The GMB says the new flexible working arrangements will avoid up to 915 potential shop floor compulsory redundancies.
It added that the temporary agreement will offer great job security throughout the period of instability resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Stuart Harrison, GMB Organiser said: “GMB senior representatives have been working with JCB throughout the crisis to protect the jobs of our members.
“Our new agreement provides flexibility to the company, through a Working Time Arrangement and achieves our sole objective of avoiding compulsory redundancies.
“We’ve worked hard to avoid job losses here and are very grateful to all our members for working together to secure their future with JCB.”
The announcement comes as JCB resumes production at UK factories where more than 2,000 employees have now returned to work.