JCB lays off 200 agency workers at Rocester headquarters
DIGGER giant JCB has released around 200 agency staff – despite seeing machine sales hit a record high.
The Rocester-based firm said the first six months of the year were the strongest in its history.
But with global economic uncertainty continuing to impact on demand, it has been forced to lay off some of the agency workers it took on just weeks ago.
JCB announced at the end of May that it was taking on up to 350 agency employees at its UK factories.
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Most of the positions were available at JCB's World Headquarters in Rocester, JCB Earthmovers in Cheadle and JCB Heavy Products in Uttoxeter.
Jobs were also on offer at plants in Rugeley, Derbyshire and Wrexham.
But now less than two months later JCB has told a number of agency workers based at Rocester that their services are no longer needed.
One worker, who asked not to be named, said: "I only started work with JCB five weeks ago on a temporary contract through Blue Arrow.
"There were about 35 people at my recruitment day and we all started in the same department, and now we've been told we've got no jobs.
"Across the factory at Rocester we've been told there are 200 going."
The 45-year-old, of Hanford, said workers were called into a meeting earlier this week.
He said some left straight away while others are finishing today, the last day before the factory's summer shutdown.
He said: "We were told it's because of a downturn in orders. I'd only been there five weeks and I packed in a full-time job to go there, so I'm a little bit bitter about it.
"We won't get any compensation or anything because agency workers only get that if you've been with them three months."
A JCB spokesman said: "JCB has just experienced the strongest start to a year in its history with sales in the first six months hitting a new record.
"However, there is much uncertainty in global economies with demand softening in many parts of the world.
"As a result, a number of agency employees have been released as we align machine build rates with anticipated demand for the rest of the year."
The firm declined to reveal a figure for its first-half sales.
JCB currently employs around 6,300 people in the UK, including more than 5,000 in Staffordshire.
It has taken on more than 850 people in the past year and in April unveiled record sales of £2.75 billion for 2011.
In May, the firm revealed it had won a £60 million contract from the Brazilian government.
And just a week later it announced that rental group Ashtead had placed two orders worth £36 million for more than 1,000 machines.