From the Frontline: Trailer manufacturer Don-Bur hibernates and furloughs workforce

 

Trailer manufacturer Don-Bur has put the business on ice for the next three weeks and furloughed the majority of its workforce, writes Carol Millett.

To move aims to ensure staff and customer safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and comes in the light of 5.4% of the company’s 500-strong staff having gone into precautionary self-isolation.

In a statement the manufacturer, based in Stoke-on-Trent, said it is hoping to re-open on 14 April. It added: “This means that the main manufacturing plant and service depots are now closed and the majority of the workforce is now furloughed.

"A support team are still working from home and some staff are available for service support to ensure critical business continuity.”

Speaking to Commercial Motor, Richard Owens, Don-Bur group marketing manager, said: “The nature of our business means that we are highly dependent on people working in close proximity. We have 30 staff already in precautionary self-isolation, so we decided it just wasn’t fair on the workforce and that going into hibernation for a few weeks was the best solution.”

Owens said the majority of the workforce will be furloughed. However he expressed concern about the lack of details available on the government’s furlough scheme.

Announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak last week, the scheme will see 80% of the wages of employees that are laid off funded by the government.

The aim of the scheme is to avoid mass redundancies during the pandemic.

“It is hard to get clear information on the scheme. No one seems to know the details. We called HMRC to ask if the furlough payments are pre or post PAYE and National Insurance payments and they had no idea,” he said.

Don-Bur has informed all clients of its decision to temporarily close.

Owens said: “The vast majority were extremely understanding. We are not alone in this. The industry has overwhelmingly gone into hibernation. The phones are dead. Retail is on the ropes and some customers are preferring to postpone their orders. So what we are doing makes sense.”

DVSA allows remote Driver CPC training

DVSA has confirmed that classroom delivery of Driver CPC periodic training has been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak and, as a temporary alternative, it will give approved trainers authorisation to deliver accepted courses remotely via digital platforms.

As a result, logistics training specialist SP Training is launching a series of online Driver CPC courses after welcoming DVSA’s announcement. SP Training courses suitable for remote delivery will be split into 3.5-hour sessions to encourage driver engagement and delivered in a live webinar style.

The usual conditions of course approval will be met and the platforms will be suitable for remote auditing. It is expected that hauliers operating primarily in the automotive and fashion logistics sectors, which are currently experiencing lower volumes, will take the opportunity to deliver and catch-up on periodic training. Further details are available by contacting info@sptraininguk.com.

Robin Brown, SP Training chairman (pictured), said: “We welcome the decision by the DVSA to allow remote delivery of periodic training and have responded by offering a series of Driver CPC courses delivered online by our approved trainers. Remote training options give operators greater flexibility to comply with current guidelines and allow drivers to undergo training while isolating and social distancing.”