Survey paints pessimistic picture

Over half of the UK’s top one hundred manufacturing employers expect to make redundancies this year according to a new survey commissioned by Amicus, the manufacturing union.

In a survey of chief executives and senior shop stewards, employment prospects, confidence levels and the outlook for the UK manufacturing sector in 2004 and beyond were all examined, with 53% of CEO respondents saying that they expected to make job cuts in 2004.

The most dramatic differences between the two groups centred on morale and confidence levels, with union representatives more optimistic about the prospects for the UK economy and manufacturing than CEOs. Almost half of the stewards questioned (48%) said they were either ‘very ‘or quite optimistic’ about the economy compared to just 32% of CEOs.

CEOs also had more pessimistic views on projected expenditure on recruitment and staff training in the coming year. 18% of CEOs thought that recruitment and training expenditure would decrease either slightly or greatly, while 8% of stewards said the same. This is despite the fact that 30% of CEOs agreed that the future success of their companies depend on employing better people and improving staff skills and development.

CEOs and stewards also had very different attitudes towards the supportiveness of the DTI. While 43% of stewards claimed DTI was ‘quite supportive’, 71% of CEOs said it was either ‘not very supportive; or not at all supportive’.

However, the survey shows the two groups share similar views on the future of their companies. The results showed surprisingly high levels of agreement and collaboration between management and staff when it comes to decision making.

One third of the stewards who took part say they have a great involvement in developing their company’s business plans and strategies, and are aware of and consulted on their company’s approach to growth and development, current and projected investment levels and the health of the order book.

Derek Simpson, General Secretary of Amicus, said: ‘These survey results explode the myth of top floor versus shop floor war and demonstrate a great deal of consensus between workers and bosses. However, shop stewards are clearly not as well informed on CEO plans for restructuring as they might be.’