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Honda slashes jobs at Swindon plant

Japanese car manufacturer, Honda, has announced plans to cut back production at its Swindon facility. The move will see shifts at the factory cut from three to two and could mean the loss of 340 jobs as ‘Car Plant Two’ closes. The new job losses come on the back of almost 600 redundancies last year, the vast majority of which were voluntary. The plant at South Marston currently employs some 3,000 workers, producing Civic, CR-V and Jazz models for the European and domestic markets.

Japanese car manufacturer, Honda, has announced plans to cut back production at its Swindon facility. The move will see shifts at the factory cut from three to two and could mean the loss of 340 jobs as ‘Car Plant Two’ closes. The new job losses come on the back of almost 600 redundancies last year, the vast majority of which were voluntary. The plant at South Marston currently employs some 3,000 workers, producing Civic, CR-V and Jazz models for the European and domestic markets. Workers were informed of the redundancy plans as they finished they shifts on Monday 24 March.

Ian Howells, senior vice president at Honda Motor Europe, explained the reasons behind the move, saying: "Over the last 12 months, we haven't seen the growth we'd anticipated. As there is no increase forecast for the next couple of years, we must scale our manufacturing activity accordingly. With the restructuring we're taking today, and our new model plans, we remain confident in the long-term future of our Swindon plant. Our Swindon operation continues to be the hub for our European car manufacturing activity."

The company has said that it intends to move car production at the Swindon plant to a single assembly line in order to improve efficiency and increase production flexibility. Honda also confirmed that it would enter into consultation with unions on the proposed redundancies.

Jim D’Avila, a Unite union spokesman, said that the announcement was “very sad news”. He added: "There's going to be 600 jobs going from the Honda site, 340 of those will be direct associates, 160 will be agency staff and the company will also be mothballing plant two. This blow today will be very, very deeply felt."

The news of job losses at Honda will put a dent in the buoyant atmosphere around the UK car industry. The industry has seen two years of increasing production and sales in the UK are also returning to pre-financial crisis levels. It seems, however, that Honda has been unable to benefit from this turnaround as much as other British-based manufacturers. This may be because of the target market for its vehicles. Other British makes tend towards the luxury end of the market and these cars have been selling extremely well in emerging markets like China and Russia. Even Nissan, who share the same sort of market space as Honda, has been selling its Qashqai model particularly well in Russia. The mid-range European market has, in contrast, been slow to recover from the down turn, with over-production and deep discounting common.

 

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