Engineering giant axes 360 jobs

British industry has suffered a fresh blow after West Midlands-based engineering giant GKN announced it had axed 360 jobs and planned further cuts this year because of the downturn in the car industry.

The firm, which employs around 6,400 workers in the UK, including 2,000 in its automotive component sector, said further restructuring will take place in 2009, which will include job cuts.

The programme remains under review as the market outlook is uncertain, but GKN said it will include "significant" short-time working, plant shutdowns, selected headcount reduction and further structural rationalisation.

The news, coming just hours ahead of a summit between the government and car industry leaders to discuss the crisis facing motor manufacturers, was described as "another body blow" by unions.

GKN, which supplies components to car factories across the UK, said that since last October it had cut around 2,800 jobs from its workforce globally, including temporary, agency and permanent employees.

Short-time working arrangements had been negotiated and implemented worldwide.

Around 360 jobs had been cut in the UK, including 130 permanent staff and 230 temporary workers.

GKN has four factories manufacturing motor components, in Birmingham and Telford, as well as a number of aerospace sites.

A company spokesman said cuts this year could also hit the aerospace sector.

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