Bury St Edmunds: Workers at Suffolk manufacturing plant face three-day weeks

ABOUT 85 workers at a company that manufactures equipment for cameras have been told their hours will be dramatically reduced until Christmas.

Production staff at Vitec Videocom in Bury St Edmunds will work a combination of three-day and four-day weeks from November 12 to December 19 when the plant will then close early for the festive period.

Workers who spoke to the East Anglian Daily Times yesterday, said the move was “hard to take.”

Bosses said they had made the decision after a “sharp downturn” in the demand for the more expensive, complex products - like equipment for television studios - all of which are made at the Western Way site.

Paul Watson, general manager of camera support and accessories, said they had consulted staff at every step.

He added: “One option could have been compulsory redundancy, but we clearly stated that was not something we wanted to do - or that was necessary at this moment in time.

“Our initial decision was to offer voluntary redundancy and then to compliment that we have gone to a programme of short time working.”

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Mr Watson said that although the company, part of the Vitec Group, had anticipated a slow August with the Olympics, they had expected business in September and October to “pick up”.

He added that due to the global financial situation a number of key projects, which would have delivered work to the manufacturing plant, had been pushed back until the New Year.

Mr Watson said the situation would be reviewed in future months, but stressed that another slow quarter did not

necessarilly mean compulsory redundancies.

“We will have to flex our business accordingly and that may mean extending voluntary redundancies and maybe shorter time working in January.

“But we have to preserve the longer-term picture and the bulk of the jobs for everybody,” he said.

One worker, who asked not to be named, said: “We were consulted, so it is not a bolt out of the blue, but it is very hard to take. It is coming up to Christmas and I have a family to support.”

Andrew Denny, president of Bury St Edmunds Chamber of Commerce, said: “In a way they are doing it to help protect jobs that are still there, but that is cold comfort to those that are affected.”

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