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E2v (marconi - Chelmsford) - 3 Day Week

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Local economy has seemed fairly resilient up until now. Some London job losses filtering through, but little local as yet. I wonder if this might have an impact.

http://www.thisistotalessex.co.uk/latestne...il/article.html

CHELMSFORD: e2v cuts workers' hours

Thursday, June 11, 2009, 00:00Comment on this story

EMPLOYEES have pledged to work three day weeks at one of the town's biggest employers in a drastic cost-cutting drive to save jobs.

Bosses at e2v – a former Marconi company – have asked staff to stay at home for 16 days in a bid to make vital savings.

The news comes as Chelmsford's registered jobless reaches more than 3,000 – its worst since the mid 90s as the recession continues to take its toll on the town's economy.

The frontiers of science company in Waterhouse Lane made the dramatic call on Monday after MD Keith Attwood revealed losses of £28 million.

One worker, whose team was briefed by the management on Monday, said: "I think everyone appreciates what is happening.

"We would rather give up a few days salary than lose our jobs completely in the current climate. I think most people, if not all, will say yes to the arrangement."

Another worker, who did not want to be identified, added: "I'm happy to take it because I'm in a good financial situation but younger people with families and single parents are worried about how they are going to pay their mortgages.

"Plus we don't know what will happen if we don't sign up to the short weeks - there's a lot of uncertainty.

"People are of the attitude that if only 50 per cent of the workforce agree to this initiative then the company will still have to make more redundancies anyway."

Other workers are upset at the company's financial strategy and in particular its purchase of French company Atmel back in 2006 for £70 million. Mike Hannant, finance director, announced he was stepping down in February. Charles Hindson replaced him in May.

"The company was going bust and if they had waited they would have got it a lot cheaper – if they hadn't of wasted all of that money we might not even be in this situation," a worker added.

Staff have been asked to consider voluntarily working a four day week in July, a three day week in August and back to a four day week in September, before returning to normal in October when the economy might have picked up.

However, many workers suggested working four days immediately meaning they can avoid the harsher three day week in July which bosses are believed to have approved.

e2v has reduced its Chelmsford workforce to 850 over the last two years from just under 1,100.

Eighty job losses announced UK-wide earlier this year are still working through the system and another handful left on Friday.

Redundant e2v lab technician Ray Cannon was astonished to hear of the flexible working scheme because during the redundancy process he claims he suggested it.

"It was referred to HR and they said it would be 'too complicated' and involve re-writing contracts.

"I only left on Friday and on Monday they announce a four day week.

"Had they been offering I would probably have given the thing a try. Perhaps they'll send me an award for the suggestion instead!"

Firm spokesman Andy Bennett added: "We want the goodwill of the staff and desperately wanted to avoid losing any more valued employees.

"We have asked for people to do this voluntarily and so far the reaction seems to have been very positive."

The recession continues to bite in Chelmsford with established independent firms Chapel Kitchens in Navigation Road and Essex Beds in Moulsham Street shutting.

Three jobs will also be lost in November when the Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society, part of the Lloyds TSB Group, shuts its High Street branch too.

Ironically, although orders are up at e2v, the firm's profit has been gutted by the weakness of the pound against the dollar and the Euro and purchases of electronics firms abroad.

Although sales nudged £230 million the company, which made £13 million before tax last year, had a pre-tax loss of £28 million for the year ending in March.

Managing director Mr Attwood said: "In light of increasing uncertainty in our markets, we are focused on further improving the scale of our operations."

Short working, plus a number of other cost-saving measures, could help save about £6 million for the first six months of the business year, he hoped.

The company says its order book looks strong up to March 2010.

Apologies if this is of little interest to those not in mid-Essex.

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This will have a big impact, for sure.

But not as big an impact as it might have had a few years ago when Chelmsford (and the ten miles there about) pretty much was Marconi. Now it has shrunk to just a 'major local employer' it isnt going to sink the local economy of itself, IMHO.

So, de-industrialisation: Another successful policy, which helps us weather re/depressions? :ph34r:

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Shame the local press dont know the local economy E2v was English Electric Valve Company and nothing whatsoever to do with Marconi.

Still I'm sure they'll get the details right on the Big Brother contestants

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