JCB employees in Wrexham are set to vote on new working arrangements designed to safeguard 915 jobs across the UK.

The company has reached agreement with the GMB union on a new working pattern that is designed to safeguard up to 915 hourly-paid shop floor positions across its UK operations.

JCB confirmed the company had successfully concluded negotiations with the GMB over more flexible working arrangements for shop floor employees as the anticipated disruption caused by the pandemic continues in the coming months.

The move will protect the jobs of up to 915 shop floor employees.

But this does not affect the 950 salaried staff at risk of redundancy at its ten plants in the UK announced by JCB last week after demand for its machines fell by half as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now 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 Leader:

A JCB worker on the shopfloor

The announcement comes as JCB resumes production at UK factories where more than 2,000 employees have now returned to work.

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.”

Among the proposals GMB members are being asked to vote on is the introduction of 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.

The GMB is strongly recommending that its members vote in favour of the new arrangements.

JCB and the GMB will review the agreement no later than December 31st, 2020 and may extend it for a further period.

In 2020 JCB had planned to sell and produce over 100,000 machines but production is now expected to be around 50,000. JCB currently employs around 6,700 people, including agency employees, in the UK.

In addition to the 950 jobs at risk of redundancy, approximately 500 Guidant agency employees, who work at JCB’s UK sites, were released from the business last week.

Announcing the redundancy plans last week, JCB CEO Graeme Macdonald said the decision to restructure JCB’s business had been extremely tough, adding: “In the UK, around 85 per cent 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. JCB has 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.”