Pottery-giant Steelite International has extended its shutdown for a further two weeks.
Around 650 staff were due to return to work at the Middleport business on Monday, April 20 following an already extended shutdown period over Easter as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
But now bosses at the firm have revealed that production will be suspended for at least another two weeks.
It means employees based at the Orme Street factory and at Steelite’s Cross 50 warehouse facility at Lymedale Business Park, in Newcastle, will not be required to return to work until at least May 4.
The company says the decision has been made to ‘further safeguard its employees and sustain the business.’
A spokesperson for Steelite International said: “The majority of Steelite employees will remain on furloughed leave until the week commencing Monday, May 4th.
“This affects employees at the company’s Middleport factory and distribution centre as well as the Cross 50 warehousing facility at Newcastle-under-Lyme. It also applies to office-based employees.
“All staff have been contacted and informed of the situation and the new date.
“The company will continue to review its position in line with the latest Government advice.”
Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis – who also chairs the All Parliamentary Party Group (APPG) on ceramics – said: “It is sad to see that production at Steelite is unable to restart. However, the health and safety of its workers and the wider community must come first.
“I have been in regular contact with the management at Steelite and I have written to the Chancellor for a business rates holiday to be given to ceramics manufactures, who are so reliant upon the hospitality sector.
“I hope such measures, along with the furloughing scheme, can give them and all ceramic manufactures, the financial reassurance they need.
“As a community we will bounce back, stronger than ever, and thank all the bravery of the key workers who ensure we can continue to protect the NHS and save lives.”
The announcement from Steelite comes following a similar announcement from luxury car-maker Bentley Motors.
Employees at the Crewe manufacturer were also due to return to work on Monday, however, the company has now revealed that it is extending its production shutdown until Monday, May 11.
Bentley confirmed that it expects full production to resume at the Pyms Lane factory from the wek commencing Monday, May 18.