Break allows Vauxhall to ‘bank’ hours for the future

Vauxhall
employees in Luton will be given four weeks’ paid leave this Christmas in an
innovative £3m deal to help the company cope with falling demand for motor
vehicles in Europe.

Employees
will finish work on 14 December and return on 15 January under Vauxhall’s
flexible working agreement. One of the weeks is the usual Christmas break, the
other three have been added to cope with falling demand. The scheme will cost
the company about £1m a week for its 3,000 staff but the hours will be recouped
next year, if demand rises, with the introduction of an extra shift.

The
flexible working deal was struck with the T&G and the Amalgamated
Engineering and Electrical Union four years ago, but has seldom been used. It
is similar to schemes in Germany and in the US, the home of Vauxhall’s parent
company General Motors.

Vauxhall’s
director of personnel Bruce Warman said, “We are the first company in the UK to
have this system that enables us to bank employees’ hours and draw them down
later.

“The
workforce is more than happy with the deal. It is a good pattern and it works.”

In the
past, when demand slumped car workers were laid off. But nowadays manufacturers
are keen to retain their workforce, which tends to be much better trained,
particularly when, as now, there is almost full employment. “We like to hold on
to our good people,” said Warman. 

The T&G
welcomed the move by Vauxhall to annualised hours and flexible working, which
the union’s spokesman said should be viewed within a European context of
overcapacity and greater employee flexibility.

By Kathy
Watson

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