Honda Motor Europe has announced that it is reorganising its Swindon manufacturing facility in response to market conditions.
It states: Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd (HUM), will move from a 3 shift to a 2 shift pattern. In addition, production will be consolidated onto one line, to improve production flexibility and efficiency, and will remain so whilst production volumes continue at the current level.
As a result, HUM will enter into consultation on a proposal to reduce the workforce by 340 production employees.
Right, part of the giant Honda plant at South Marston, Swindon. Below, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable on a visit to Honda in 2013, pictured by Richard Wintle of Calyx
"Over the last 12 months, we haven’t seen the growth we’d anticipated. With no increase forecasted for the next couple of years, we must scale our manufacturing activity accordingly", said Ian Howells, Senior Vice President, Honda Motor Europe.
"However, 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."
Honda has been manufacturing cars at HUM since 1992 and currently builds the Civic, Civic Tourer, CR-V and Jazz models for the UK and European markets.
A statement sent to North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson adds: ‘Honda will be working closely with all associates, who will be offered enhanced voluntary release packages whilst consultation with Unite continues. Honda will be offering a number of programmes, including change management information, CV writing support and flexibility for attending interviews. We have an Associate Assistance Programme which all Associates have access to and will be engaging with the local community to run a Jobs Fair.??
‘However our long-term commitment to continue producing cars at Swindon remains absolute. Since 2011, we have invested over £250 million in the plant for the new Civic, new CR-V and new diesel engine production line.’
Justin said: "This is very disappointing news, especially in the context of the overall strength of the UK automotive industry with strong sales by Honda’s competitors. It is clear that Honda’s commitment to Swindon remains strong with £250 million invested in the plant since 2011, but the current projected sales of 120,000 per year can be produced by the consolidated one line.
"There are already plans to introduce four new designs into the European market next year. I have already spoken directly with Honda to stress the urgency that Honda speed up the implementation of the new designs. This will be key to reversing the disappointing sales figures.
Below, happy days at Honda: Launching the new Civic in Swindon in December 2011
"As with last year’s job loss announcement, myself and Robert Buckland MP (for South Swindon) will work with Honda UK, the UK Government, Unite, Department for Work and Pensions, Forward Swindon, Swindon Borough Council & Jobcentre Plus to help assist those who face redundancy.
"To Honda’s credit, they worked exceptionally hard to support their staff following last year’s announcement. Through this support work, of the 800 who faced redundancy, only 34 were not able to secure alternative work or take early retirement with the enhanced redundancy package. This joint working is crucial for both the staff and the local economy."
Mark Dempsey, the Labour Party’s parliamentary candidate for North Swindon said: "This is deeply concerning for the workers and families that could be affected. Honda is crucial to Swindon’s local economy and the job losses will affect many people in our town.
"This news shows the fragility of our local economy. We need action now to help Honda and our other major employers grow, seize the opportunities of the future, including the green economy, and enable Swindon to go from strength to strength."