Forty jobs go at Ransomes

ONE of the oldest manufacturing companies in Ipswich has confirmed that 40 workers are to be made redundant.

Lizzie Parry

ONE of the oldest manufacturing companies in Ipswich has confirmed that 40 workers are to be made redundant.

Eight people at Ransomes Jacobsen Ltd, based at Ransomes Europark, have faced compulsory redundancies after 32 workers volunteered for redundancy.

And although management hope that the recent job losses will be sufficient, it has been warned that there could be more to come.

It means that the number of people employed by the firm will be around 250 compared to an estimated 3,200 people in 1966.

The close relative of one worker who has been directly affected in the latest cuts said morale among staff at the factory was at an all time low after the announcement, which will come into effect by the end of September.

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The relative, who said she wanted to remain anonymous, said staff are upset and feel they have been unfairly treated after agreeing to unpaid leave only to return to work to discover the redundancies.

But Peter Driver, company spokesman, said at no point in the process was it suggested to staff the two-week unpaid leave was to prevent redundancies.

He said: “When staff, including myself, were told they had to take two weeks unpaid leave or a ten per cent pay freeze they stated at that time they hoped that would be enough but that further measures would be taken if it was not enough and that is what happened.”

Mr Driver said that the company, like manufacturing companies across the UK, needed to make cutbacks in the face of the economic downturn.

He added the company was keen to secure its presence in Ipswich and the recent job cuts were part of that process to secure its future when the economic downturn comes to an end.

He said: “It has affected everybody across the company, it is a hugely regretful decision, and management do not take these things lightly. We have been manufacturing here for about 200 years and we want to make sure we stay here but we need to reduce costs.”

He said management hoped there would be no more job losses but warned the company could not promise anything.

He added: “Our customers are cutting back making equipment last longer, so we can't guarantee this is the end.

“We still want to retain a flexible and skilled work force so we are prepared for the upswing.

“Management have put in place steps to make sure we have a company for the future.”

Ransomes of Ipswich was founded in 1789 by Robert Ransome, and so began a long association with the town.

Mr Ransome, an iron founder from Norwich, moved to Ipswich to expand his markets.

One of the first, principal products was ploughshares, and they fast became the leading manufacturers in the country.

Undertaking a range of work, including building iron bridges in Suffolk around 1820, the fourth major product manufactured by the company was the lawn mower.

This side of the business assumed greater importance in the 1920's and 1930's when the company moved into non-agricultural productions of electric trucks and buses among other things.

During the Second World War Ransomes contributed to the manufacture of armaments and aircraft as well as farm implements for the ploughing-up campaign.

In 1989 the whole of the agricultural implement business was sold to Electrolux leaving Ransomes a big manufacturer of lawn mowers including Westwood and Mountfield mowers.

In 1997 the company received a take over offer from Textron Inc, an American company, and it became Ransomes Jacobsen Ltd early in 1998.