Employees at the huge Honda car factory in Wiltshire have been left reeling today following the announcement that 800 of them are to lose their jobs within the next few weeks. The Japanese company currently employs 3,500 people at its plant at Swindon. Nearly a quarter are to be made redundant.
The company blames a slump in demand for cars across Europe, and says it remains fully committed to long term operations in Britain. The loss of so many jobs will have a major impact on Swindon's economy. Our correspondent Robert Murphy has more.
His report includes interviews with Business Secretary Vince Cable, Kim Ballamy from Honda, Swindon North MP Justin Tomlinson, Jim d'Avila from Unite Union and local businessman Peter Richardson.
The Japanese car firm Honda is to cut 800 jobs at its UK plant in Swindon after a slump in demand for its vehicles in Europe.
The factory employs 3,500 people. Workers were told about the cuts when they arrived for their shifts this morning.
A 90-day consultation period is underway. Honda has siad it is trying to avoid compulsory redundancies.
The multinational has been making cars in the UK since 1992, and has never had job cuts here before. The firm said demand had fallen by a million across Europe.
"Sustained conditions of low demand in European markets make it necessary to re-align Honda's business structure. As such, Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) will enter into forma consultation with its associates to consider these changes and the proposal that it will reduce the workforce by 800 associates by spring 2013.
"Honda remains fully committed for the long term to its UK and European manufacturing operations. However, these conditions of sustained low industry demand require us to take difficult decisions. We are setting the business constitution at the right level to ensure long-term stability and security."
– Ken Keir, Executive Vice President, Honda Motor Europe