The ups and downs of the global economy were clear to see in very real terms at JCB Transmissions in Wrexham on Tuesday.
The sheer relief and joy of having his old job back was written all over 49-year-old Phil Davies’ face. He used to work on the assembly line at the plant which turns out 29,000 gear boxes a year but was made redundant three years ago.
The recession hit the construction industry first and hardest and JCB lost 50 per cent of its business. 200 jobs went in Wrexham. Phil managed to keep himself in work, moving from one short term contract to the next but with no security and a drop in income he told me it was a very tough time.
JCB’s fortunes have slowly turned around as demand for its diggers has grown, particularly in the BRICS countries; Brazil, Russia, India and China. 75 per cent of its products go for export.
Demand thousands of miles away is good news for Phil and the Wrexham economy. First he came back to the factory on a temporary contract as the order book picked up and now he’s permanent again.
Workers at JCB, like many companies, reduced their hours in the depth of the recession in order to save as many jobs as possible. It meant families kept their incomes and JCB kept its dedicated and skilled workforce in Wrexham. It was a collective decision which has paid off.
In an exclusive interview for ITV Wales News, JCB’s Chief Executive Officer Alan Blake said the gear box factory in Wrexham is one of the company’s most productive plants in its global empire and the signs are good for 2011.
For the first time in three years workers received a Christmas bonus and a pay rise will be paid this month. 40 jobs have been reinstated, it’s nowhere near the numbers before the crash but it’s an indication that things are improving – abroad at least. That makes life much easier for Phil closer to home in Llay.