In a statement on 11 January Honda Motor Europe announced changes to its UK car manufacturing operation to ensure the long term stability of its future business.
It said ‘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 formal 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” said Ken Keir, Executive Vice President, Honda Motor Europe.’
Pictured, Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable on a visit to Honda in September 2012 to welcome the £267 million modernisation investment in the Swindon factory. Below, Honda Civic production. Bottom, workers launching the new CRV. Photos: Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com
Whilst the UK car buying market is strong for Honda and other car makers, the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone has hit demand for Honda vehicles made at the South Marston factory in Swindon which employs 3,500 workers. The company saw a rise in UK sales of 6 per cent, but a 7 per cent drop across Europe.
The company has been established in Swindon for 25 years where it has invested £2bn. Last year 500 people were taken back on to build the new look Civic and CR-V and a £267million modernisation programme was announced. Now the factory production is predicted to fall from 165,000 vehicles to 150,000 annually.
This is the first time that the company has announced job losses; the 800 staff will leave by the end of April this year.
Swindon Council leader Rod Bluh said: “Honda is one of our biggest and most valued employers in Swindon so we are naturally disappointed the company has had to take this difficult decision.
“This announcement will affect many people and families throughout Swindon and we will be working with Honda, and our partners, to provide as much support as possible to those employees who are affected by these job losses.”
Mark Dempsey, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for North Swindon said: "The terrible news of job losses at Honda is a devastating blow for Swindon; and the 800 workers and families that will be affected. The job losses will affect the whole of our town.
"Most people who live in Swindon including myself have friends or family that work at Honda, and so will feel the impact of these job losses themselves. This is also a devastating blow to our local economy in Swindon. We need real change and a clear plan for growth to rebuild Swindon’s economy, support major employers including Honda, and attract the new jobs and businesses our town needs."
South Swindon MP Robert Buckland added: "Today’s announcement by Honda of job losses in Swindon will affect many families throughout the town, and our first thoughts should be with them.
"I have received a briefing from senior management at Honda at which I sought and received an assurance that everything possible will be done to minimise the impact on Honda’s associates. I have asked that the options of redeployment or voluntary redundancy are always explored wherever possible.
"In addition I have spoken at length to Swindon’s Job Centre Plus to ensure that all the necessary advice and assistance can be provided for the associates who are being affected. On Monday I will be chairing a meeting of the DWP Area Action Team, which brings together a number of bodies including Forward Swindon and the Job Centre. This will explore every possibility for helping and supporting the people affected by this announcement.
"Today I also spoke to Number 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister is well aware of the impact of this announcement on Swindon. The government is doing all it can to ensure that the economy returns to growth. I will be having further discussions to ensure that Swindon receives whatever assistance is available.
"Rest assured I will continue working hard to ensure that the Honda associates affected by today’s announcement are given every possible help, and that Honda is given every support in its role as a vital employer in Swindon."
Images of Vince Cable visit above by Richard Wintle ©Calyx Multimedia, 41, Churchward Avenue, Rodbourne Cheney, Swindon SN2 1NJ • 01793 520131 MOB: 07836 205196 www.calyxpix.com
Below, Honda plant on 11 January