JCB has announced up to 290 job cuts in a move that leaves more than 10% of the workforce at one of Britain’s biggest manufacturers facing redundancy.
The construction equipment company blamed a rapid slowdown in machine orders worldwide, with the cuts taking place across JCB’s eight Staffordshire factories and in Wrexham.
JCB, chaired by the Conservative peer Lord Bamford, had already announced up to 400 job cuts in September from its UK headcount of 6,000. The company is consulting with workers over those cuts and has launched a fresh consultation with the GMB trade union over the latest round of redundancies.
Graeme Macdonald, JCB’s chief executive, said: “Manufacturers in the construction equipment industry are currently facing very tough trading conditions and we have to react to the current market reality to protect the long-term future of the business. Regrettably this means taking the very difficult decision to reduce the number of shop floor positions by up to 290 across the UK.”
The last time JCB was forced to cut jobs on this scale was in 2009 during the depths of the global financial crisis. Macdonald, who runs JCB for the billionaire Bamford family, said the global economy shows no sign of improving and that the outlook is challenging.
JCB said demand had plunged in Russia and Brazil – big markets for the company that have been hit by falling oil and commodity prices. Previously sturdy growth in the UK and the US weakened over the summer, it added.
Fears are growing that declining world trade will cause a spate of factory closures in the UK, dashing hopes of an export revival. More than 5,000 steelworkers are facing redundancy in England and Scotland, and 860 jobs will go when Michelin closes its tyre factory in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, announced on Tuesday.
JCB is the third biggest maker of construction equipment in the world and exports 75% of its machines to about 140 countries. It contributes £1.4bn a year to British GDP and each of its jobs supports another three in the supply chain, independent analysis has shown.
Bamford is also a big Tory donor, contributing more than £2.5m to the party in recent years, and wrote a report on manufacturing for the government in 2012.
Gordon Richardson, the GMB’s JCB convenor, said: “This news is obviously very disappointing but it has been apparent now for some time that global markets have been declining. Our job as a trade union is to now work hard to formulate a plan to mitigate the impact of the proposed redundancies.”
This article was written by Sean Farrell, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 4th November 2015 14.11 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010