Morale ‘low’ and people feel ‘cheated’ at Tier three

A Huthwaite factory managing director has spoken of the difficulty of keeping up staff morale following news that Nottinghamshire is going to Tier 3 - the most severe coronavirus restrictions.

By Dale Spridgeon
Friday, 27th November 2020, 11:31 am

The new rules come into force across the county at 00.01am on Wednesday, December 2 – after the national lockdown ends, it was announced yesterday (Thursday).

Stuart Handley, Managing Director at SPE (Swiftool Precision Engineering Ltd), said the announcement on Thursday, was a 'serious blow' to his 134-strong workforce.

"People have just about had enough, morale is on the floor after the news," he said.

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Samantha and Stuart Handley of SPE (Swiftool Precision Engineering Ltd)

Since March, he said many of his employees had worked "exceptionally long hours," some as much as 60 hours per week, including Stuart himself and his wife, and director Samantha Handley.

Stuart said he also feared the restrictions would mean “no let up” for his staff, and “increased disillusionment” about the restrictions could see people becoming “seriously demotivated to carry on.”

The award winning plant manufactures critical parts for the nuclear, petrochemical, and aerospace markets as well as for national defence.Stuart, who runs the company with Samantha, said they had spent more than £80,000 on PPE, testing, masks, screens, flu jabs, antibody tests to keep their employees safe.

The couple’s company had to remain operational from day one in March throughout the pandemic and they had no formal operating guidelines issued by the Government until May 2020.

The factory SPE (Swiftool Precision Engineering Ltd)

The company has only seen two confirmed cases in its work force in all the time since March,

Samantha said: "We have been just extremely lucky so far to have had only two positive identified cases, we have had people isolating, but we have managed to keep going.

"As a husband and wife team, we take our employee safety very very seriously, we spent the staggering sum of £80,000 on safety measures.

"This is a family business and trying to look after our staff is at the heart of what we are about.”

The company was also involved in the Ventilator UK Challenge – a consortium of significant UK industrial, technology and engineering businesses from across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors, which came together to produce medical ventilators during the Covid 19 crisis.Samantha said "It is has been a privilege to be on the front line of the manufacturing industry, doing what we do, but many of our guys are just completely and utterly exhausted. They have worked flat out during the crisis.""I am seriously concerned for people's mental health, as well as their physical welfare. Many people here feel cheated by the recent announcement that we will remain in Tier 3.

"We are now having to guide people to employee assistance schemes. There is only so much we can do."

Stuart added: "The worst thing is now we can’t even organise any end of year celebrations, or any formal gatherings or other for them with the new restrictions. We are going to have to do something for our employees though, because they have been absolutely amazing during this situation."