JCB, a big company making mechanical diggers, has sent out letters beginning the consultation legally required when declaring more than 100 redundancies.
The required 45 days consultation will end on 2 July, just after the end of the current phase of the “furlough” scheme under which the government covers 80% of the wages of workers sent home for the lockdown.
JCB plans to cut 950 from its permanent workforce, and 500 agency-worker jobs.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that Airbus plans to “finalise” plans to cut 10,000 jobs across Europe — from its 134,000 total workforce — in the next few days.
Rolls Royce has talked of cutting 8,000 jobs, and British Airways, 12,000.
These cuts will have knock-on effects in smaller firms which supply the giants. Special Metals Wiggin, in Hereford, said on 12 May that it plans to cut 150 jobs.
A flurry of job cut announcements is likely now because of the 45-day span to the end of the current phase of the furlough scheme.
The government has said it will continue the scheme to the end of October, but, it says, “employers will need to share the burden of paying salaries with the government”.
Bosses want to put pressure on the government to maintain the full pay-out. In many sectors, like aviation, they also see their markets shrinking.
Other firms may shut down or scale down because their previous plans relied on expansion, and when creditors come after them as the lockdown eases they won’t be able to pay their debts.
Ed Miliband, as Labour’s shadow business minister in the new Starmer team, is floating proposals for a “green recovery plan” to be discussed with “businesses, workers, unions and others” and then put to the government.
Reconversion of industry from such sectors as aviation is possible. But it requires public ownership of the large firms which are threatening redundancies.
And the labour movement must work out its own emergency plans, not rely on getting an agreement with business bosses.
Demands to expand public-sector employment, and to win a shorter working week with no loss of pay, will also be vital.