Production is set to re-start at tyre-giant Michelin’s UK headquarters on Monday.
The manufacturer furloughed hundreds of workers at its Stoke-on-Trent factory on March 26 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
But now production staff are preparing to return to the Campbell Road site on April 27 .
Michelin Stoke factory manager Francois Levert told StokeonTrentLive: “The factory stopped making tyres on March 26 as part of a planned pause in production because of market conditions. Then the Covid-19 outbreak accelerated and at the moment the vast majority of production workers are part of the Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.
“The furlough scheme pays 80 per cent of an employee’s salary up to a limit of £2,500 per month, but Michelin is making that up to 90 per cent with no cap because we want to protect people’s finances.
“It’s a challenging time for everyone and we really appreciate the flexibility and commitment shown by our whole workforce. A huge amount of work has been done to make sure that our manufacturing employees are safer than ever when they return to work, and we have invested in equipment and developed exceptionally stringent procedures to that end.
“There are many variables which go into deciding when a factory will reopen, including safety, materials supply, and demand. But at the moment we expect our machines to be up and running by the end of April, so we hope to welcome back all our manufacturing colleagues who are not self-isolating or able to work from home by then.”
Unite’s Michelin works convener Rob Taylor added: “Everybody in the factory, apart from those considered vulnerable, will be returned to work from Monday, April 27. There will be a phased return to the site.
“During the shutdown there’s been a lot of hard work going on in the background to try to make the site as safe as possible for all those who are returning.
“It’s only through working together in these difficult times that we manage to get through it.
“They’ve used global best practices, way above UK guidelines, to keep people safe in the factory.”