Crewe based Bentley staff in row over Saturday shifts
A DISPUTE over Saturday working has broken out at luxury car-maker Bentley, according to workers.
The Sentinel understands bosses at the Crewe-based firm raised the possibility of Saturday shifts at a meeting with shop stewards earlier this month, but it was rejected by employees.
Now it is thought workers have been asked to vote for one of two options.
Option one is a nine-day fortnight shift pattern with a seven-and-a-half per cent shift premium, which would require employees to work 12 Saturdays per year, while option two is a four-and-half day shift pattern, Monday to Friday, with no shift premium but no requirement for Saturday working.
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It is thought the second option could increase the risk of further 'time-banking' – where employees are paid during time off but have to make up the time later.
Bentley employs just under 4,000 people at its Pyms Lane headquarters. It is not known how many workers the potential shift changes would affect, but The Sentinel understands they would come into force on October 15.
One worker, who asked not to be named, told The Sentinel: "The management gave us an ultimatum to sign up for compulsory Saturday working or go back to a four-and-a-half day working week, which seems strange as they have been wanting us to go to a five-day working week for some time.
"And now the company is taking the 7.5 per cent shift premium off us to put us on a shift pattern we have not done for nine years.
"It seems like they have spat their dummy out because we do not want compulsory Saturday working, but we all have lives and families outside work."
Bentley unveiled a prototype 4x4 called the EXP 9 F in March and the worker claimed bosses have implied that Saturday shifts are needed to make sure it goes into production at Crewe.
He said: "They keep saying we need this just in case we get the SUV. It's between us and Bratislava, but who wants a Bentley that's made there? It's not very easy to see your car being made in Bratislava is it?"
A Bentley spokesman said the firm would not comment on details of ongoing negotiations, but added it was focused on balancing the needs of the business with a "fair and competitive" offer for staff.
The Sentinel reported in July that Bentley was extending its summer shutdown.
But unlike previous longer breaks – taken as the recession took its toll on demand – the firm said the closure was partly to help the factory prepare for future increases in production.
The Pyms Lane plant closed for three weeks during August, rather than the traditional two.
In July the manufacturer revealed it delivered 3,929 cars to customers during the first six months of 2012, up 32 per cent compared with the same period last year.
According to latest figures UK sales dropped last month but so far this year it has sold 809 cars in the UK, up 13 per cent from 716 in the same period in 2011.
Bentley is due to exhibit at the Paris Motor Show later this week.