Japanese car giant Honda is to cut 800 jobs from its UK factory following a slump in demand across Europe.

Honda cuts 800 jobs as European market slumps

Honda this morning announced to workers at its Swindon plant, which employs 3,500 people, that 800 jobs would be cut. The job cuts are Honda's first ever round of redundancies in the UK.

The company has been making cars ihere ince 1992, but says demand for cars in Europe, including Spain, Italy and Greece, has fallen by one million over the last year. The company has given the statutory 90-day notice of consultation and claims it will seek to avoid compulsory redundancies.

Ken Keir, executive vice president of Honda Motor Europe, said: "Sustained conditions of low demand in European markets make it necessary to re-align Honda's business structure.

"Honda remains fully committed for the long term to its UK and European manufacturing operations. However, these conditions of sustained low industry demand require us to take difficult decisions. We are setting the business constitution at the right level to ensure long-term stability and security."

Where am I going to go? What am I going to do? Honda employee Malcolm Hanley

Last September, Honda announced a £267 million investment programme at Swindon that created 500 new jobs with an expected increase in demand along with a new diesel engine line.

Honda said the expected increase in demand had not happened so it now predicted that annual production would remain at 150,000 for the next three years.

General associate Malcolm Hanley, who started working for the company in 2007, said: "I'm gutted, it's my work and I don't know what I'm going to do. If I'm getting fired, where am I going to go? What am I going to do?

"I found out last night, about midnight. Everyone just went pale. Everyone thought it was all right, but that's the way it goes."

Shock cuts

Colin Brain, who works at the engine site as a floating operator, said the announcement had was a big surprise after the company announced a new multimillion-pound investment programme.

"We heard last night, because we were on shift. It was a bit of a shock. We don't really know what is going on at the moment, it's not really sunk in. We're going to try and do as best we can now, and hopefully get more questions answered today," he said.

Unite national officer Tony Murphy said: "This is a hammer blow to UK manufacturing and to Swindon where Honda is a major employer. The reality is that over 1,000 jobs are going at Honda - it's a disaster for manufacturing in the UK and for the local economy.

"It's a tragedy for our members and their families. There's no doubt these cuts will have a significant knock-on impact on the supply chain, and on local shops and services."