China coronavirus outbreak hits production at Staffordshire's JCB

Staffordshire digger giant JCB is set to reduce production levels at its UK factories due to anticipated component shortages from Chinese suppliers hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

JCB telescopic handlers on the production line at the JCB world headquarters in Rocester
JCB telescopic handlers on the production line at the JCB world headquarters in Rocester

It means a shorter working week from Monday for around 4,000 JCB and agency shop floor employees, mostly at plants at Rocester and Uttoxeter, and follows an immediate suspension of all overtime.

The measures have been discussed with the GMB union and will see the introduction of a 34-hour week for UK production employees until further notice. JCB employees will be paid for a 39-hour week and will bank the hours, working them back later in the year.

JCB chief operating officer Mark Turner said: "The disruption to the component supply chain in the UK comes at a time when demand for JCB products is very strong, so while this course of action is very unfortunate, it is absolutely necessary to protect the business and our skill base.

"Production in the UK has so far been unaffected by the situation in China. However, more than 25 per cent of JCB’s suppliers in China remain closed and those that have reopened are working at reduced capacity and are struggling to make shipments. It is therefore clear that the inbound supply of certain components from Chinese partners will be disrupted in the coming weeks as they seek to replenish their stocks. This inevitably means we will not have the required amount of parts needed to build our forecast number of machines in the short term.

"These measures will ensure that, while we will produce machines in lower than anticipated numbers, we will do so with the same number of employees, whose skills we will need to fulfil customers’ orders when the situation returns to normal. We are keeping the situation under review and we anticipate a surge in production levels once this period of supply disruption has passed."

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