Digger manufacturer JCB is cutting production and working hours as its faces a shortage of components from China due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It is thought to be the first time a major UK manufacturer has warned about the epidemic’s impact on its output.
There will be reduced working hours for the 4,000 staff from Monday and an immediate suspension of overtime.
More than 25% of JCB’s suppliers in China are closed, while others are working at reduced capacity.
“The disruption to the component supply chain in the UK comes at a time when demand for JCB products is very strong, so while this course of action is very unfortunate, it is absolutely necessary to protect the business and our skill base,” JCB chief operating officer Mark Turner said.
“We are keeping the situation under review and we anticipate a surge in production levels once this period of supply disruption has passed.”
The move will mean the working week at the Staffordshire-based company will be cut from 49 to 34 hours. JCB, known for its distinctive yellow machinery, said workers will still be paid for 39 hours, but will have to work the extra hours later in the year.
Last week, Fiat Chrysler said the impact of the coronavirus epidemic could halt production at one of its European car plants within four weeks.
Car firms are on alert over possible disruption to Chinese factories and suppliers, but Fiat’s warning was the first to highlight an impact in Europe.