Honda workers return after four-month shut down

Thousands of car workers returned to the production line at one of the UK's biggest plants today after a four-month shut down.

The Honda factory in Swindon, Wiltshire, resumed business this morning but the 3,400 workers and management staff returned to the factory for lower wages and will be producing far fewer cars this year.

During the shut down 1,300 workers took the company's offer of voluntary redundancy. The employees still at Swindon have agreed to a 3 per cent pay cut for the next 10 months while managers are having pay reduced by 5 per cent in the face of a big downturn in new car sales. And around 400 people who returned to work have been given new roles or training as their jobs no longer exist.

Staff got full pay for the first two months of the shut down and around 60 per cent for the last two months. With production halted Honda has spruced up the Swindon plant, stripping and rebuilding assembly lines and redecorating throughout.

New robots and machinery have been brought in to prepare for the new Honda Jazz Supermini which will start production at Swindon in September.

Director of Planning and Business Administration David Hodgetts was positive today about Honda's future. He said by the end of the month they hope to produce 600 cars a day. "There was scepticism that we would reopen today so we are very happy that we have returned to work and that the overall climate is as we expected and has allowed us to reduce our stock levels," he said. "We have halved our production to match sales and we will gradually increase over the next few months so we are confident for the future. This has got to be seen as a good sign from an economic point of view; it does not mean the end of the recession but it means that things have stabilised and we can go forward with our plans."

During the shutdown employees said they had been spending time with their families, taking other paid employment or doing community voluntary work.

Paul Wiseman, 33, who works in the engine department, said: "We all understood the shutdown had to happen and we think it was a good idea.

"I'm pleased to be back at work and back into a routine. I have painted and decorated the whole house and kept the wife happy by doing all those jobs I never got around to doing.

"There are people who took the redundancy money and are still out of work. At least we have a job."





Paul North, 38, an engine floating operator, said: "Taking a 3 per cent pay cut is not a big deal, it could have been worse. In Japan they are having to take 10 per cent. Nobody wants to lose their jobs so if this safeguards jobs then we have to go with it.

"Everybody is glad to be back because four months off is a long time and there's only so much golf you can play. I think the new Jazz will be the making of Honda and of Swindon because people are going to buy the smaller cars during the recession."

Honda had hoped to produce 228,000 vehicles at Swindon this year. Last November this figure was reduced to 175,000 when it was decided that production would stop in February and March. In mid-January, Honda said the shutdown would last through April and May as well, and the 2009 production figure has now been set at just under 113,000.

Honda new car sales in the UK dipped more than 16 per cent in April 2009 compared with April 2008 and sales for the first four months of this year are down more than 34 per cent.

The restart of production comes at a time when there is a glimmer of hope amid the motor industry gloom.

Last week, the government announced that the "cash for bangers" car scrappage scheme had been an initial success, with 35,000 new cars being ordered since the initiative was first announced on April 22. Nationally, new car sales have fallen 28.5 per cent in the first four months of this year. But it is possible that the scrappage scheme could, at the very least, halt the rate of decline.

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
VIDEO
Arts & Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'
tv
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Telesales & Sales Support Apprentice

£221.25 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a well established Inter...

Client Relationship Manager - SQL, Python

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Client Relationship Manager - SQL...

**Financial Services Tax**

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Take your chance to join the...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit