Japanese car giant Honda is to cut 800 jobs at its UK factory after a slump in demand across Europe.
Workers at the firm’s plant in Swindon, which employs 3,500, were told the grim news as they arrived yesterday morning.
Honda, which has been making cars in the UK since 1992, has never had job losses before in this country, but it said demand for cars in Europe, including Spain, Italy and Greece, had fallen by 1m in the past year.
The company gave the statutory 90-day notice of consultation and said it would seek to avoid compulsory redundancies.
Ken Keir, executive vice president of Honda Motor Europe, 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.”
Honda said individual discussions will be held with workers at the factory following the announcement, while union officials have been briefed about the plans.
Around 150,000 cars were built last year in Swindon, which has an annual capacity of 250,000.
A third of the cars are sold in the UK, with the rest being exported to 26 countries, mainly in Europe.
Honda builds the Jazz, Civic and CR-V models in Swindon and has grown in size since it first started manufacturing in the UK, investing more than £2bn.
A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman said: “We will be working with local partners to minimise the impact of the job losses.”