JCB is axing up to 950 employees and 500 agency workers at its UK plants as a result of 'global uncertainty' fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic. Demands for the company's machines has fallen by half as a result of the deadly-virus which has spread around the world in recent months. A 45-day consultation between company bosses and union leaders will begin on Monday (May 18). Workers at JCB's 10 factories in Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Wrexham are affected. The severe disruption caused by coronavirus will see the company's annual production halved. JCB CEO Graeme Macdonald today said the decision to restructure JCB’s business had been extremely tough but that the company “had no choice but to take difficult decisions to adapt to this new economic reality”. He said: "In 2020 we had planned to sell and produce over 100,000 machines. With so much global uncertainty, that figure right now is looking more like 50,000 machines. "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." JCB employ around 6,700 people in the UK, including agency employees. The vast majority of JCB’s employees are currently furloughed until the end of May after production at UK factories stopped in March in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. This week, around 400 workers returned to work as production partially re-started at five of JCB's factories in Rocester, Cheadle, Uttoxeter and Wrexham. Mr Macdonald added: "The Government’s taxpayer-funded Job Retention Scheme, which was a temporary measure that has seen most UK employees furloughed since the beginning of April, was never going to be capable of sustaining employment at companies having to face such reduced levels of demand."
Pictured: JCB CEO Graeme Macdonald.