UK car industry hit hard by recession

Workers at the UK factory of Japanese motor giant Honda are making the last cars for four months because of an extended shutdown caused by the slump in sales.

Production at the plant in Swindon, Wiltshire, will be halted until 1 June.

Honda has stressed its commitment to retaining its 4,200 Swindon workers until the autumn, when the Jazz model is due to go into production.

A number of UK car plants have cut production and jobs because of the huge slump in sales caused by the recession, which has had a knock-on effect on supplier firms.

Honda's fellow Japanese manufacturer Toyota, which employs 3,900 people in Derbyshire and 600 in Flintshire, North Wales, has already suspended night shifts and announced two 14-day shutdowns. Managers are discussing further cost-cutting measures.

Nissan, which runs Britain's biggest and most productive motor plant in Sunderland, axed 1,200 jobs earlier this month following an extended Christmas shutdown. One shift was cut from the plant's two production lines until March, with one being reinstated in April.

Jaguar and Aston Martin, both founded in Britain, have also been hit by the slump in sales.

Aston Martin has cut production, bringing in a three-day week at its factory in Gaydon, Warwickshire. The company said there were no redundancies amongst the 1,850 employees and the situation would be reviewed.

Jaguar shut down its plant in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham for two weeks on January 19. The factory, which employs 2,000 workers, had only re-opened the previous week after an extended Christmas shutdown. Jaguar has cut 450 jobs.

The Government has announced a £2.3bn package of loans and loan guarantees to help the industry, and some extra support for training.

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