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Laing O’Rourke: 70 posts at risk at second factory

Exclusive: another 70 posts at a second Bison factory are at risk after Laing O’Rourke told staff this afternoon that it is proposing to reduce shift patterns and merge some positions with its pre-assembly facility.

CN has learned that staff at the Swadlincote hollowcore facility, in Derbyshire, were told the news this afternoon.

The news takes the total of posts at risk across two Bison factories to 125, after CN revealed earlier today that 55 other jobs are at risk at Bison’s loss-making Uddingston factory in Scotland. The Scottish factory is facing closure after O’Rourke launched a consultation yesterday.

A Laing O’Rourke spokesman said some positions at the Derbyshire site – which will remain in operation – will be merged with its manufacturing and preassembly facility at the Explore Industrial Park, Steetley, Nottinghamshire.

The spokesperson said O’Rourke is “totally committed to securing [Bison’s] long-term future” and said the “continued depressed state of the construction and manufacturing markets has led to a decline in demand for core Bison products, with losses being made”.

The spokesperson continued: “Therefore it is with regret that we today informed our Swadlincote workforce that following a review of the future pipeline of opportunities, we are proposing a reduction in the shift pattern, matching output capacity to demand levels and aligning costs accordingly.

“The proposals also suggest that we merge and relocate a number of central overhead positions with Laing O’Rourke’s Explore Industrial Park near Worksop. 

“This proposal places 70 roles at risk of redundancy. Our priority is to support our workforce through this unsettling time and over the coming weeks we will be consulting them around the details of this proposal.”

An O’Rourke-led consortium struck a last-minute deal for Bison when it fell into administration in 2008. The contractor rescued two of Bison’s three sites, safeguarding 450 jobs, but the deal did not include a Leeds factory.

O’Rourke said in 2010 that through a process of restructuring and cost reduction initiatives, the entire workforce at Swadlincote had helped to find monthly savings worth £383,000 – the equivalent of £4.6 million a year. Productivity and staff engagement levels had also significantly improved.

Ray O’Rourke said at the Government Construction Summit that the industry needed to move towards 35-hour working weeks to attract younger people to the industry.

It comes as the contractor revealed an increase in revenue and earnings for the 2011/12 year yesterday.

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