Honda said this morning it was halting production at its Swindon plant in April and May, extending the two-month closure announced before Christmas to four months.
The company said in November that it would halt production in February and March, with 4,800 workers receiving full basic pay.
Today the company said that because of the continuing fall in demand it was extending the closure, with workers getting 50% of their pay.
Honda’s move adds to the deepening gloom in the UK car industry. Nissan has announced plans to cut its Sunderland workforce by 1,200 people, and earlier this week Jaguar Land Rover said 450 jobs would go.
Manufacturers’ cuts will have a ripple effect on companies in their supply chains, where many firms are struggling with the fall-out from the credit crunch.
The latest developments will add to pressure on business secretary Lord Mandelson to help the struggling industry. Earlier this week, in evidence to the House of Commons business and enterprise committee, Mandelson acknowledged the importance of the automotive sector to the UK’s research and development capability and its manufacturing base.
The government could provide assistance by allowing car makers’ finance arms access to the financial support put in place for the banking system or with help with R&D.
A Honda spokesman said it had decided to extend the closure rather than making people redundant. “These are skilled people we want to retain. This is our way of managing the business, we believe this is the best way,” he said.
The company is set to begin production of the new Jazz model in the Autumn, and is keen to preserve its production capacity for the longer term.
National meeting for car workers and ancillary/supplier industries
Saturday 14 February 2009
12 pm to 4 pm
The Birmingham and Midland Institute,
Margaret Street, Birmingham, B3 3BS
Hosted by the national shop stewards network
Sponsored by the “Save the” Ford Transit Campaign Southampton
The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) invites all car workers to a meeting on Saturday 14 February in Birmingham to discuss the developing crisis in the industry.
Car workers face the greatest threats to their jobs and living standards as a result of the recession now taking place across the economy both in Britain and abroad.
In a period like this the employers are seeking to offload the whole crisis on our backs.
Many companies have started a programme of lay offs, jobs cuts and enforced down time.
The meeting hosted by the NSSN is an attempt to bring together shop stewards and union activists across the car industry to compare their experiences and hammer out a series of polices around which we can agree and campaign for in our unions and factories.
Already we have seen all the major car companies in this country carrying through cuts.
Ford, which ten years ago had 14 plants in Britain now has only four after selling Land Rover and Jaguar to TATA motors India.
Vauxhall, as part of General Motors, is reducing its workforce and putting workers on down days and short time.
Land Rover and Jaguar are cutting over 600 jobs and the three Japanese manufacturers, Toyota Nissan and Honda, with car plants in Britain are closing down production for up to two months.
The effect of all these cuts and shutdowns is also massively affecting those industries further down the supplier chain.
GKN had announced 1800 jobs to go in Britain and Corus Steel has mothballed a blast furnace in Port Talbot.
Thousands of small businesses that depend on the car industry are being affected along with the communities that the main plants are based in.
But this does not all have to be one way, we can fight back.
Ford workers in Southampton, making the Transit van, have walked out twice on unofficial strikes against Ford’s plan to send the Transit van to Turkey from 2011.
NSSN supporters have consistently agitated for the unions to organise a major campaign to defend the plant as one of the last manufacturing bases in the city.
The unions have to respond to these threats to our jobs and our future; if governments across the globe can pour money without end into the banking system then they can be forced to act to save the car industry.
The unions are campaigning for the government to put money into the ailing car industry but how much more effective this could be if it is backed up with direct action from the shop floor.
There is no guarantee that industrial action will work but there is a guarantee that unless we fight back then we will be the losers.
The fat cats who run our industry are looking after themselves. For example, the top seven directors in Fords received nearly £100 million last year in salaries and pensions according to the Unite union. This is approximately what it would cost to retool Ford’s Southampton plant to produce the new Transit van.
We call on shop stewards committees and trade union branches in the car industry along with individual car shop stewards to back this conference and support it.
The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) was set up in July 2007 to bring together shop stewards and workplace reps from around Britain to fight against the increasing onslaught by the employers.
We have now organised two national conferences and a number of regional and local conferences which have drawn together workplace reps including those on strike or preparing to take strike action.
The NSSN is supported by the following national unions. RMT (rail), PCS (civil servants) POA (prison officers), the CWU (postal and communication) NUM (mineworkers) and many local and regional bodies of trade unions.
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