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Union slam Honda as 'callous' as it confirms Swindon plant closure with loss of 3,500 jobs

The Honda manufacturing plant in Swindon will close in 2021 after months of uncertainty Credit: PA

After months of uncertainty it has been confirmed that Honda will close its Swindon plant in 2021 - with up to 3,500 employees now facing redundancy.

The announcement was made today [May 13] to employees that the manufacturing plant will stop production when the current car model comes to the end of its production cycle.

Union Unite says the process of telling employees was "unbelievably dehumanising", and consisted of showing a DVD to confirm the closure.

Steve Preddy, regional secretary, said: "Workers were shunted into a room and shown a DVD confirming the plant closure. They were then told if they had any questions to go to their union rep or HR.

"Workers have been left stunned by the utter callousness of the company, which has chosen to deliver this devastating news to their loyal workforce first by media leaks and then by DVD. It's unbelievably dehumanising."

The Japanese industry giant told workers at the Swindon factory that, following a "meaningful and robust" consultation, no viable alternatives to the closure have been found.

A number of organisations and groups took part in the consultation, including the Government and external consultants drafted by the Unite union.

Business Secretary Greg Clark has said in a statement that he is "disappointed" in Honda's decision to close the plant, but that those affected will be given the support they need.

Having chaired the initial Honda Swindon Taskforce meeting, I am clearly disappointed that the outcome of Honda’s consultation is to close the Swindon plant – despite the best efforts of civic and business leaders as well as trade union representatives and Honda UK workers.

As the company starts the next phase of its consultation, they have stated they will continue to work with the Honda Swindon Taskforce.

We will ensure everything is being done to support those affected and to continue Swindon’s record of attracting investment to create highly-skilled jobs that offer fulfilling careers for years to come.

– Greg Clark, Business Secretary
The union Unite have dubbed the closure a 'body blow' Credit: ITV News

Unite, which represents a number of the workers dubbed the news as a "body blow which is nothing short of a betrayal of the workforce".

Instead we have this body blow which is nothing short of a betrayal of the workforce, customers and the wider supply chain which relies on Honda Swindon for work.

Unite can only conclude that Honda is taking a strategic decision to retreat out of Europe in favour of protecting its North American operations and avoiding president Trump's tariff threat on cars made in Europe.

Unite will be consulting with its members on our next steps in the coming days.

– Des Quinn, Unite national officer
3,500
Honda employees in Swindon facing redundancy

Des Quinn says Unite is still waiting for "detailed reasons" from Honda for the closure. He added that Unite's alternative plans for the future of the plant "added up and was likely to be backed by the Government with public money".

Mr Quinn also put forward the argument that keeping the Swindon plant open would have left Honda in a good position to be at the forefront of electric vehicle technology:

It would have made Honda a global leader in emerging battery technology and in a strong position to exploit the growing global market for electric vehicles in the coming years.

– Des Quinn, Unite national officer
Up to 3,500 employees now face consultations and redundancy agreements Credit: ITV News

In a statement Honda confirmed that the employee redundancy process will start immediately.

The car manufacturer announced plans to consider the closure of the plant in February, with no firm decision made until now.

It is with a heavy heart that today we confirm the closure of Honda’s factory in Swindon.

We understand the impact this decision has on our associates, suppliers and the wider community.

We are committed to continuing to support them throughout the next phases of the consultation process.

– Jason Smith, Honda Director