Wave of job losses across Rolls-Royce, Ovo Energy and JCB

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Rolls-Royce is proposing a ‘major reorganisation’ that will involve at least 9,000 redundancies – around one-fifth of its global workforce.

The majority of the job losses were expected to be in the UK– mainly in its civil aerospace division, which has been greatly affected by Covid-19 travel restrictions, but some central functions were also likely to see headcount reductions.

Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said: “This is not a crisis of our making. But it is the crisis that we face and we must deal with it.

“Our airline customers and airframe partners are having to adapt and so must we. Being told that there is no longer a job for you is a terrible prospect and it is especially hard when all of us take so much pride in working for Rolls-Royce. But we must take difficult decisions to see our business through these unprecedented times.

“We have to do this right, which means we will work closely with our employee and trade union representatives as appropriate, look at any viable alternatives to mitigate the impact, consult with everyone affected and treat our people with dignity and respect.”

Meanwhile, Ovo Energy announced plans for 2,600 redundancies across Ovo and SSE Energy, which it acquired in January.

It noted that job losses were always expected as the two businesses were integrated, but these plans will need to be accelerated as the coronavirus pandemic has meant many customers were choosing to manage their energy online, which had an affect on the work carried out.

There had been a 92% reduction in smart meter installations and a 69% drop in home service engineering work because of the pandemic.

Ovo said the majority of the job losses will be found “largely through voluntary redundancy” in 2020.

“There is never an easy time to announce redundancies and this is a particularly difficult decision to take,” said Ovo CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick. “But like all businesses, we face a new reality and need to adapt quickly to enable us to better serve our customers and invest in a zero carbon future.”

The Unite union questioned why Ovo Energy had not made further use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if it had experienced a downturn in work in some areas.

National officer for energy and utilities Peter McIntosh said: “We will be pressing the company to explain why it is not continuing to take advantage of the government’s JRS which was specifically designed to deal with potential job losses caused by the coronavirus crisis.

“It was on the cards that, after this year’s integration of the two businesses, jobs could be lost with more customers going online and the expansion of digital services. Covid-19 has accelerated this development, but it is still no excuse not to proactively engage with the JRS.”

Construction plant manufacturer JCB also planned to make up to 950 people at its UK factories redundant, due to a 50% fall in global demand for its products.

JCB chief executive Graeme Macdonald said: “In 2020 we had planned to sell and produce over 100,000 machines. With so much global uncertainty, that figure right now is looking more like 50,000 machines.

“It is deeply regrettable that we have had to take these steps to restructure the business and that it will have an impact on so many people. No business could have anticipated the scale of the Covid-19 crisis and its economic consequences.”

Job losses might also follow at the Casual Dining Group – which has brands including Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas – after it filed intent to appoint administrators at the High Court. Around 6,000 people are employed by the group.

The company claimed filing the intent to appoint an administrator gave it 10 days to come up with a restructuring plan and would protect it from threatened legal action from landlords.

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