Rolls-Royce staff strike labour deal

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The Independent Online
THE WORKFORCE at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars yesterday agreed a Rover- style labour deal that guarantees their jobs in return for flexibility in working hours.

The company, which is owned by Volkswagen of Germany and has a workforce of 2,500, will adopt the new working time initiative in the new year. Under the scheme, employees will stay at home on full pay when demand is slack but work extra hours beyond the standard 37-hour week during peak periods.

Employees will be able to bank up to 300 hours a year in their "working time account". The new arrangements will virtually eliminate overtime working and premium payments at Rolls-Royce's Crewe plant in Cheshire, producing cost savings for the company.

Rover's 37,000-strong workforce signed up to a similar deal last week but only after its German owner, BMW, threatened to close the Longbridge plant unless it received agreement to 2,500 job losses and cost savings of pounds 150m a year.

In contrast to the crisis at Rover, Graham Morris, chief executive of Rolls-Royce, said: "This innovative arrangement has been concluded in a very `Rolls-Royce way' - quietly, efficiently and without fuss."

A spokesman described the agreement as an insurance policy and stressed that Rolls-Royce did not expect the downturn it has experienced this year, with sales down 14 per cent, to continue into 1999.

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