Engineering and retail jobs axed

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Engineering jobs cut, retail jobs axed, more short-time working, but more jobs for Asda and Sky. That was today's mixed news in the jobs market.

* Engineering giant GKN announced it had axed 242 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.

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.

* One of Britain's biggest home shopping companies, Shop Direct, today announced more than 1,000 redundancies from its call centres. The company, formerly known as Littlewoods Home Shopping, said it will close a call centre in Crosby, Merseyside, with the loss of around 1,000 jobs.

Around 150 further redundancies will be made at the company's headquarters in Speke, Liverpool, and other sites close by. The firm said the growth of online shopping had led to a reduction in telephone orders.

* Luxury car maker Aston Martin became the latest manufacturer to cut production this week. Its factory at Gaydon, Warwickshire, started a three-day week, with workers being sent home on Thursdays and Fridays.

The company said there were no redundancies amongst the 1,850 employees and the situation will be reviewed.

* Supermarket chain Asda will create 7,000 new jobs this year, a spokesman said today. More than half will be created by the opening of 14 new stores and the planned expansion of 15 existing sites.

President and chief executive officer of Asda Andy Bond said: "This year we will create 7,000 new jobs at a time when many companies are having to lay people off. We will also be helping 3,000 long-term unemployed get back into work by specifically targeting them for existing vacancies in our business.

"Our track record of recruiting and retaining people is second to none, which is why we have the lowest turnover and most motivated workforce in British retail."

Among the locations where new stores will be built are Bury St Edmunds, in Suffolk, and Chelmsley Wood in the West Midlands.

The jobs that will be offered to 3,000 long-term unemployed include part-time roles.

Many of them will come through a partnership between Asda and Remploy which helps disabled people find work.

* Broadcaster BSkyB reported a 31 per cent rise in half-year operating profits today and said it planned to create 1,000 jobs to support further growth.

The group, which also provides broadband and home telephony, said customer growth was 2 per cent year on year following the net addition of 171,000 subscribers in the quarter to 31 December, taking its customer base to 9.24 million.

BSkyB said it expected further acceleration in the take-up of its Sky Plus HD service, which combines a personal video recorder with high definition TV. It has reduced the price of the box to £49 and said anticipated demand meant it would create 1,000 jobs in customer service and installation.