TEAMWORK: Steve Cooper, Tracey Seldon and Stuart Nottage of TDK Lambda Works Council receiving their award from Jason Palmer, regional director of Blue Arrow in the South West and Wales.
A FALL in orders and a need to reduce costs led to the TDK Lambda Works Council working with the company to reduce costs.
Its work was so effective that it won best team of the year category in the NDMA Awards. So how did it achieve this?
As the economic downturn developed, the Works Council and the Ilfracombe-based company together explored the options available to minimise the impact of cuts on the business and its employees.
The Works Council is the representative body within TDK-Lambda UK and its role is to provide a voice for all company employees on matters of concern and to negotiate terms and conditions of employment with the company's management.
Initially, the company proposed short-time working for the direct labour force, as an alternative to redundancies.
The Works Council had the task of convincing 140 employees to reduce their working week, and therefore their pay, in order to save jobs.
Agreement was reached and it was successfully implemented.
As the situation worsened, it soon became clear that further action was needed and the company proposed a redundancy programme along with STW across the whole organisation.
Again, the Works Council had the task of persuading almost 300 employees that STW was the best solution, and as a consequence the number of redundancies made was greatly reduced.
This action meant that when order levels increased later in the year, not only had more employees retained their jobs, but the company had retained valued and skilled workers, and as orders increased further, employees were returned to full-time working.
The Works Council also negotiated on behalf of a group of five employees where a redundancy had been identified.
The employees and the Works Council made a proposal to the company that all five employees would take a permanent cut in hours and benefits in order to save the threatened job.
This was a first for the company and the team had to work hard to convince management that it would work. When one of the employees subsequently left the department, the remaining four returned to full-time hours.
Speaking for the Works Council, its secretary, Stuart Nottage, said of the award: "We were surprised and proud. We were not expecting to win this award, as although the circumstances were unique, this is just part of our role."
The reduced level of redundancies has helped the company recover now that order levels are strong again. The retention of skilled employees is of great benefit to the long-term health of the company and it has managed to make the cost savings required during the downturn.
This good working relationship has been established between the Works Council and senior management over several years.
There is an openness to different ideas and points of view, and a strong commitment to working to find the best solution to a difficult situation for everyone concerned.