About 300 staff at troubled Britishvolt have agreed to accept a pay cut in November while the company attempts to secure funding to assure the future of its gigafactory in Northumberland.
Executives at the firm have agreed not to take any pay at all for the month with directors reportedly taking home a quarter of their pay. The company has not confirmed the extent of the cut for most staff but some outlets have suggested it is up to 50% of pay.
There was overwhelming support from employees for the pay cut given the company’s situation, it has been reported.
The company has secured short-term funding to enable it to continue operating for now, but seeks long-term investment.
Plans for the factory, on the site of the former coal yards of the old Blyth Power Station 15 miles north of Newcastle, were heralded by the government in 2020 as a sign that Britain was ready to lead the way in green technology despite supply chain issues in the automative industry and a subsequent major fall in vehicle manufacturing in the UK, partly caused by Brexit.
It is envisaged that the plant will employ 3,000 by the time production is up and running.
Any collapse of Britishvolt could mean more car manufacturers having to look further afield for battery supplies as the 2030 ban on the sale of new cars powered by diesel and petrol engines nears.
Ministers had committed £100m to the project but have now refused Britishvolt’s requests to draw down a third of the cash early.
MP Ian Lavery, whose Wansbeck constituency includes the factory site, has called on the government to release funding for the firm but international trade secretary Kemi Badenoch has said taxpayers’ money needs to be used wisely.
Britishvolt said it continued to explore both short and long-term funding streams that would enable it to deliver on its plans to deliver more than 300,000 lithium-ion batteries a year on the site.
It said: “While the weakening economic situation is negatively impacting much business investment at present, at Britishvolt we are continuing to pursue positive ongoing discussions with potential investors. In addition, we have also received promising approaches from several more international investors in the past few days.”
The announcement of the factory in 2020 was seen as a major triumph for the north east of England. It was reported as one of the UK’s largest ever industrial investments – of £2.6bn – with 3,000 skilled jobs and up to 5,000 more in the wider supply chain being projected.
Blyth was chosen by Britishvolt for its excellent transport links and access to clean, renewable energy with the gigafactory originally set to be operational by the end of 2023. This has been pushed back to 2025 now.
Britishvolt has yet to bring in revenue but has struck partnerships with Aston Martin and Lotus to develop batteries to be used in the automakers’ electric vehicles.
The company’s founder Orral Nadjari stepped down as CEO earlier this year, with the company’s president of global operations, Dr Graham Hoare, appointed acting CEO.