Car firms concede shorter, more flexible working week

A shorter working week and more flexible working time arrangements are the result of recent agreements by the main car makers, according to a new survey by Incomes Data Services. But, the report says, many pay settlements were below 2% – substantially lower than last year – mainly because of the low level of inflation. […]

A shorter working week and more flexible working time arrangements are the result of recent agreements by the main car makers, according to a new survey by Incomes Data Services.

But, the report says, many pay settlements were below 2% – substantially lower than last year – mainly because of the low level of inflation.

The smallest pay increase in recent months was at Jaguar, whose workers were awarded 1.6% in the second year of a two-year deal which provided for a rise in line with the September 1999 retail price index plus 0.5%. Workers had been awarded a rise of 4.75% in the first year.

Nissan and Peugeot workers received similar rises under analagous agreements. At Vauxhall in year two of a three-year deal, workers did better because of a formula which awarded them the 3% or the July 1999 RPI, whichever was greater.

IDS said that productivity remains the central issue in pay negotiations, with employers willing to trade larger pay rises for productivity improvements.

But the most significant move in the UK car industry, said IDS, is the agreement by Ford to reduce the working week for its manual workers from 39 to 37.5 hours.

Ford originally proposed flexible hours. In previous years both Peugeot and Vauxhall have introduced flexible working but without reducing the overall week. Rover traded increased flexibility, including the chance to exchange overtime at peak periods with shorter hours at slack times, for a cut in hours to 35 per week.

Unions’ attention is now likely to turn to Nissan, Peugeot and Toyota, which are the only UK car makers whose workers are still on 39-hour weeks. Peugeot is negotiating to bring its Coventry plant into line with its plants in France.

l In last week’s issue of The Engineer we stated that a report by Incomes Data Services showed some motor industry employers were using variable pay levels in place of across-the-board increases.

This was incorrect, and we should have said that variable pay deals, including bonuses for meeting safety, quality, time and attendance targets, were being used to supplement, not replace, across-the-board pay rises.

IDS Report on Pay, Conditions and Labour Market Changes, number 808, can be obtained from Incomes Data Services, 020 7250 3434.

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