CAR giant Jaguar Land Rover is offering production workers at its Lode Lane factory leave of up to three months in exchange for a 20 per cent pay cut, as part of an innovative scheme to stave off the threat of job losses in gloomy economic times.
The Tata owned company say the move is to cope with the current poor global financial markets and a reduction in demand for their luxury car brand, which is not just hitting them but other major car businesses in the UK too.
The sabbatical programme, which was announced at the end of last week following consultations between unions and workers on the issue, is open to 6,500 workers at Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Browns Lane in Coventry.
It means workers can take up to a minimum of four weeks leave up to a maximum of three months off and apply and undertake other temporary jobs during that time and then come back to work at the end of the period.
Mark Foster, manager corporate affairs, Jaguar Land Rover, said: "We feel it is an original approach to the current trading conditions and we really have to try to match production to staffing levels."
"As a business it is prudent and essential we match production with demand. Every automotive company is having to cut production and we are not immune to that. We are fortunate that we have growth markets in China, Russia and Brazil."
"We want to avoid redundancies where we can and there is no doubt that we are in or entering a recession and we really need to be well placed to cope with that."
He added that the company expects 2009 to be a tough year for trade but confirmed that Jaguar Land Rover were optimistic economic conditions would improve by the end of 2009.
He stated that the company was now waiting to see what the reaction would be from the workforce who could take up the offer of the scheme through the human resources department based at the plant and had not yet had any feedback from staff.
Only last week, the company announced 198 jobs would go as part of a voluntary redundancy programme affecting workers at Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Halewood.
The Solihull Times spoke to several workers leaving the Lode Lane plant yesterday afternoon about their reaction to the scheme.
One, who did not want to be named but had worked there for 14 years, said: "I have heard about the scheme but I am not in favour of it."
He described the mood amongst workers as "sombre" and said some workers were thinking of taking up the offer.
Many other workers said they were still awaiting information about it from their unions.