Engineering firm Stainless Metalcraft at Chatteris to furlough 34 staff as it focuses on major healthcare projects

A leading engineering company has announced it is to furlough 34 staff as it refocuses its operations during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Paul Grinnell
Friday, 27th March 2020, 12:01 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 12:48 pm
Austen Adams, managing director of Stainless Metalcraft.
Austen Adams, managing director of Stainless Metalcraft.

Stainless Metalcraft, based at the Chatteris Engineering Works, in Honeysome Road, Chatteris, says the 34 employees, which includes its apprentices, will be retained on full pay during April.

The decision was announced to staff today (Friday) with the company pledging to keep the situation under review.

The move has been prompted by the need to protect the health of staff and to meet the demands placed on the business, which has been designated as a critical supplier for national medical and key infrastructure projects.

Its engineers play a vital role in the development of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) equipment used in radiology and are also heavily involved in nuclear decommissioning programmes.

The announcement has been combined with an offer of help from the award winning company to other manufacturers that may be struggling to complete work or facing problems with their supply chain.

Austen Adams, managing director of Stainless Metalcraft, which has 125 staff including 19 apprentices, said: “Components for medical equipment is one of the core areas of our business and, as such, we have been informed that we are a critical supplier in these unprecedented times.

“This means we are being asked to ensure the business remains operational if possible during the Coronavirus outbreak, so that key medical supplies continue to be available as required.

“We are doing all we can to ensure the site remains operational while protecting the health and wellbeing of our employees and the wider community.

“With that in mind, we are making changes to the way the business is run during these challenging times, focusing resources and personnel on delivering projects that are critical to supporting our healthcare services and national infrastructure.

“We have therefore taken the decision to furlough 34 members of staff who are either not working on key projects, or whose roles cannot effectively be carried out from home.

"All furloughed employees will be retained on full pay during April, with the situation kept under review as the local and national picture develops.

“We have also taken the difficult decision to include our apprentices within the number of furloughed employees.

“Our apprentices are the lifeblood of the business and benefit from learning in a specially-designed training facility.

"However, given the current guidelines on social distancing, we can not guarantee that the training centre will provide a safe learning environment.

"This has been a hugely difficult decision to make but, while it means their training will go on hold in the short-to-medium term, their health and wellbeing has to come first.

“We will of course do everything we can to ensure our apprentices can finish their training in due course and, with the whole community following the Government’s social distancing and isolation guidelines, we are hopeful the pandemic will be brought under control quickly and we will be able to welcome back all employees in the not-too-distant future.”

Mr Adams said: "The manufacturing industry is primarily hands on by nature.

"Fortunately, the scale of our facilities mean it is possible to continue production across all departments while adhering to the Government’s social distancing advice.

“We are also supporting all employees that can do so to work from home, and will continue to monitor Government guidance to make sure we are doing everything possible to prevent the spread of the virus.

He added: “Our decision to offer support to other manufacturers came about because we are conscious that not every manufacturer has the capability to continue operations during these challenging times and some will have taken the difficult decision to temporarily cease operations.

“As an industry, we are reliant on supply chains to deliver essential contracts. With so much uncertainty around how long these measures will need to be in place, we are keen to do our bit to support the industry, as well as the wider economy, ensuring essential contracts can be delivered and we retain the skills and facilities the industry needs to deliver both now and in the future.”

Any business interested in taking up Metalcraft’s offer of manufacturing or supply chain support can contact the business on [email protected]