The Honda factory in Swindon manufactures 160,000 Honda Civics each year © Honda
The Honda factory in Swindon manufactures 160,000 Honda Civics each year © Honda

Honda factory closure ‘a betrayal’

14 May 2019

Honda has confirmed it will cease production at its Swindon plant in 2021, resulting in the loss of up to 3,500 jobs.

The manufacturer said the factory will be closing at the end of the current production lifecycle, following a consultation. The factory makes 160,000 Honda Civics each year. 

The closure comes despite efforts by the government's Swindon Taskforce to convince Honda to reconsider and protests by hundreds of Honda employees in Swindon in March.

Honda said the decision concluded the first phase of its consultation process, and it will now be entering the second phase to agree employee redundancy packages and to assess the impact on individual roles until production ceases.

The manufacturer said it will also increase its engagement with the  Swindon Taskforce, which was set up in February in response to the initial plans for the factory's closure.

The taskforce, made up of more than 30 politicians, trade unions and Honda employees, had aimed to secure the future of Honda in the UK.

Honda UK's manufacturing director, Jason Smith, said the decision had been taken “with a heavy heart”.

He said: “We understand the impact this decision has on our associates, suppliers and the wider community. We are committed to continuing to support them throughout the next phases of the consultation process.”

The manufacturer first proposed to cease production in Swindon in February, but said the move was in response to unprecedented changes in the automotive industry, rather than a “Brexit-related issue”.

Meanwhile, trade union Unite, which represents workers at the Swindon plant, has called the decision a “body blow of betrayal”, as 3,500 jobs are set to be lost and a further 12,000 within the supply chain are at risk.

Unite national officer Des Quinn said: “We have this body blow which is nothing short of a betrayal of the workforce, customers and the wider supply chain which relies on Honda Swindon for work.”

He said Unite would be consulting with its members in the coming days.

In April, business secretary Greg Clark announced a £16m aid package from the government to help the UK’s automotive suppliers, especially those likely to be hit by the closure of Honda’s factory.

The government said the package would offer support to SME automotive suppliers across the country, advising how best to evolve their products and processes to meet customers’ future needs.

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