Jobs go at engineering firm

MORE than 100 agency workers at a Suffolk engineering plant have been laid off, as plummeting vehicle sales bring grim times to the motor trade.Sudbury-based diesel filter and injectors manufacturers Delphi has laid off all its hourly-paid agency staff, numbering around 110, as it tightens its belt to face a tough few months.

By Sarah Chambers

Business Correspondent

MORE than 100 agency workers at a Suffolk engineering plant have been laid off, as plummeting vehicle sales bring grim times to the motor trade.

Sudbury-based diesel filter and injectors manufacturers Delphi has laid off all its hourly-paid agency staff, numbering around 110, as it tightens its belt to face a tough few months.


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Management at the plant, which employs around 858 workers, expressed sadness at the loss of the staff, some of whom have been working at the site for some time, as the recession bites.

But human resources manager Steve Coppock said market conditions left it with little choice, with no immediate signs of an upturn in sales.

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“There's a general downturn in the vehicle market. You are probably aware from reports that you'll pick up in the media that car companies are laying off their workers and clearly, that's starting to go through the industry,” he said.

“Basically, we are just making the right moves we hope, although obviously it's sad for us.”

Some of the agency workers had been with them for many years, but they had to protect their core workforce, he said.

“Unfortunately, everyone's affected by the fact that people won't want to buy vehicles at the moment,” he said.

“We can only forecast this year and the early part of next year, and currently there are no signs of improvement.”

He added: “People who have been with us for some time have been released. We are now having to make the decisions to keep our costs under control to protect our core workforce.”

Senior shop steward at union Unite Paul Brewster said 62 staff had been laid off just before the weekend, and around 50 staff in the weeks prior to that.

“There's a general downturn in the motor industry which is affecting us. The main effect has been in the filter unit,” he explained.

“The main companies are not selling cars, are they, so obviously that will have a knock-on effect for us. Our main business is the truck business. They are also feeling the effects.”

Motor dealers and manufacturers are also laying off staff as they feel the pinch from the downturn in vehicle sales.

Earlier this week Jaguar Land Rover extended a voluntary redundancy scheme and yesterday German car giant BMW yesterday announced that production of the Mini would be suspended for four weeks, through the extension of the usual two-week Christmas shut-down at its plants at Oxford and Swindon

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed yesterday that new car sales in October 2008 suffered their biggest monthly year-on-year fall for more than 17 years.

The number of new UK registrations during the month totalled 128,352 - a 23.05% drop on the October 2007 figure, and the worst year-on-year monthly drop since June 1991.

The SMMT has now revised its whole-year sales forecast for 2008 down to 2.15 million vehicles - nearly 11% down on 2007 - and it believes sales next year could fall to 1.92 million which would be the first time that sales have dipped below the two million mark since 1995.

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