Lord Bamford, chairman of equipment giant JCB, has hailed Christmas bonuses, a New Year pay rise for workers, and more than a thousand new recruits as reasons to be cheerful about 2018.
Even the workers’ union joined in the optimism as Bamford revealed record-breaking order books, leading to a global purchasing spree by the manufacturer.
Saying the industry is "doing very well at the moment", bullish Bamford even said the trouble his company is having recruiting enough workers is "a great challenge to have to overcome" in an upbeat statement yesterday.
JCB shop floor employees returned to work after the holidays to a New Year pay rise of 3.9% and order books at their strongest in the company’s history. The increase, linked to November 2017’s Retail Price Index, is part of a three year wage deal and took effect from 1 January.
Yuletide largesse saw JCB hand out a £500 Christmas bonus to all its 5,500 UK employees.
In my view there is every reason to be optimistic about the future and in particular the future of the British economy– Lord Bamford, JCB chairman
Bamford said JCB has recruited more than 1,200 people at its 11 UK factories over the past year, and handed permanent contracts to 150 agency employees, with more to follow this year.
On the strength of the global business JCB has increased its purchasing spend globally to more than £2bn a year and in the past 12 months spending with the company’s 2,500 UK suppliers has risen by 13% compared to the previous period. This came as the company launched 46 new products.
This week JCB went into production with a new range of site dumpers at its World HQ in Staffordshire in a move it says will create around 70 new jobs over the next 12 months.
"The industry in which we operate is doing very well at the moment, which is not only good news for JCB, it’s good news for our region and good news for Britain," Bamford said.
"Our spending with UK suppliers has increased substantially over the past year and we are already off to a very strong start in 2018 with a very healthy order bank in place. In my view there is every reason to be optimistic about the future and in particular the future of the British economy.
"With unemployment at its lowest level for more than 40 years, we face some challenges with recruitment but that is a great challenge to have to overcome and a very positive position for the UK to find itself in."
The pay increase follows acceptance in 2016 by GMB union members of a three year deal affecting around 3,200 shop floor employees.
Chief Executive Officer Graeme Macdonald said: "The long-term pay deal agreed last year gave us the stability we needed to plan and has delivered a robust pay rise for JCB’s shop floor employees. The outlook for 2018 is positive with markets all over the world in exceptionally good shape."
GMB Works Convenor Gordon Richardson said: "2017 was a good year for the company which has generated more job security for GMB members and we welcome the pay rise which was agreed as part of the three year deal."
Image: Dancing diggers: On the strength of the global business JCB has increased its purchasing spend globally to more than £2bn a year (GCR/Youtube/Wikimedia Commons)