South Marston Honda: Job cut targets achieved

Honda director Kim Ballamy talks to the BBC's Dave Harvey

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Car maker Honda's target of cutting hundreds of jobs at its Swindon plant has been achieved, mainly through voluntary redundancy, the company said.

Management originally announced 800 job losses at its South Marston factory in January following poor sales in Europe.

Company figures show there has been 38 compulsory and 554 voluntary redundancies.

Director Kim Ballamy said the firm had worked hard to "minimise the impact on associates and their families".

The Unite union said the reduction in compulsory redundancies is a "great achievement".

It was also announced that a further 188 vacant roles would no longer be required as a result of restructuring.

'Good outcome'

Analysis

For 38 people in Swindon, this week ends badly. They have lost their jobs, and they didn't want to. Everyone, from the union to the Honda management, says they are sorry about this. But they are clearly fairly pleased that the number is this low.

Four months ago bosses at the Swindon car plant announced 800 job losses, the drastic medicine needed to cope with a slump in European demand. If you had told them then that only 5% of that total would be compulsory redundancies, they'd have been surprised and relieved in equal measure.

Now, of course, the big question hangs over Swindon's huge car factory: Is that it?

Honda hopes their new revamped "Civic Tourer", with a larger boot and German design will help boost sales. But they all know that a factory that only sells to Europe has to wait for a Eurozone revival before redundancy programmes like this can be consigned to history.

Mr Ballamy said the company had been working hard with "associate representatives, individuals and trade unions".

"It's always difficult to lose good people. However, I believe this is a good outcome given the challenge we faced."

About 3,000 workers are based at the plant, building the Civic, Jazz and CR-V for the UK and European markets.

The firm, which started making cars in Swindon in 1992, has blamed falling sales across Europe for the drop in demand.

It built 166,000 cars in 2012, when capacity is 250,000.

"In the markets, we do expect Europe to remain tough for a least another two years," added Mr Bellamy.

"By taking these actions we are ensuring Honda in Swindon is structured and manned to meet the challenging period ahead."

The Unite union's Jim D'Avila said: "We started with a potential 800 compulsory redundancies so we negotiated with Honda and were able to secure a relatively attractive severance package which several hundred workers accepted.

"To go from 800 to 38 compulsory redundancies is a great achievement, and we now look forward to a brighter future with improved car sales."

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