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GWU says Methode employees being pressured to work on their days off

Methode Electronics employees are being pressured into working a five-day week and getting paid for four, a General Workers' Union official said yesterday.

A Methode director denied that this was the case.

The company, which employs 600 people, recently cut the working week to four days after its orders fell as a result of the slump in the global car industry, which was hit hard by the financial crisis.

Despite the measure, the secretary of the GWU's technology workers section, Andrew Mizzi, said when contacted that the union had received reports that the management is putting pressure on certain employees to work on their day off although they are not getting paid for it.

He said a number of employees were being subjected to "psychological pressure" to work on their day off.

Methode employees also said the company was expecting them to reach the same targets while working a day less every week.

The management denied these reports and Methode's European strategic director Pierre Micallef said when contacted that "it was not the case".

"Please be informed that it is not the case that the company is insisting that production quotas relating to a five-day week are met. It would be unreasonable in the extreme to expect this and would attract the hostility of the union that represents the workforce, with which we enjoy excellent relations."

Mr Micallef added that it was in the interest of all stakeholders - therefore also including employees - "to ensure that the company maximises its potential in all circumstances".

One employee said the targets are rarely met in a 40-hour week, let alone if they have eight hours less to manufacture the same number of items. Although orders had decreased drastically, there was still a lot of work that had to be done, workers said.

The company is a global designer and manufacturer of electro-mechanical devices.

Employees at Hetronic Malta, which was acquired by Methode Electronics in September, also had their working week reduced by 10 hours.

Hetronic Malta is the largest production plant of the US-based Hetronic Group and was set up in Malta 13 years ago. Workers have to face a 20 per cent cut in their wages.

The workers said that this was a very difficult time for them as they had families to sustain and loans to pay. Banks are in fact stepping in to help workers by reducing their repayments.

The workers said they were in the dark over their future and whether this four-day-week system would be extended. They also expressed concern over which employees would go first if the company decided to force redundancies.

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