STAFF at Gloucestershire’s largest private employer have been asked to work unpaid for one day a week to help the company through the economic downturn.

Workers at Renishaw plc, which has its headquarters in Wotton-under-Edge, have been warned that compulsory redundancies are likely if they do not agree to the scheme.

The Gazette previously reported that all employees had been asked to agree a voluntary 20 per cent reduction in their pay for a 13-week period and work a four day week.

However in an extraordinary move, the company has asked some staff to voluntarily work the extra day unpaid if they are needed.

In a statement to the Gazette, company spokesman Chris Pockett said: "Whilst some manufacturing staff will work a shorter week, many employees have been asked to consider volunteering to work a full 37 hour week to assist the company in areas of the business, such as product development and sales, which will continue to have a positive impact on revenues.

"The aim of these measures is to allow the company further time to better understand the new market conditions caused by the current global economic downturn, before making any further decisions on resizing its business."

The statement also made clear that any delays in this cost saving scheme could result in "an immediate move to compulsory redundancies".

Last week the company held 12 one-hour meetings with employees at its sites in Wotton, Stonehouse and Woodchester, where a total of 1,500 people are employed.

The meetings were hosted by Sir David McMurtry, chairman and chief executive of Renishaw, and staff members heard about the difficult trading conditions the company is contending with and were able to ask questions about the recent request for a salary reduction.

Mr Pockett added: "At all meetings Sir David again expressed his regret at having to ask staff to agree to measures that would create financial challenges.

"Despite the challenges faced, feedback from staff following the meetings was very positive, with many commending Sir David and the board on their openness and willingness to answer difficult questions in these particularly challenging times."