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Honda Four Month Shutdown Underlines Urgent Need for Car Industry Support

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LONDON, January 16, 2009: The announcement today that Honda will halt production at its Swindon plant for the months of April and May this year has been met with dismay by Unite, the UK's biggest union.

Reacting to the news that there will be a further shutdown in addition to the two month stoppage over February and March, Derek Simpson, joint general secretary for Unite said:

"This latest, additional shutdown underlines the urgent need for state assistance for our car industry. With demand for Honda's products collapsed and a plunge in this year's production figures, one of our leading plants must stand idle for four months.

"Now, the Honda workforce is facing a 50 percent cut in wages, and are frightened for their jobs and futures. They, along with the rest of the car and components industry, desperately need to see some form of lifeline being thrown to the sector from the Government. We also need immediate financial support for workers, such as those at Honda, who must take a cut in pay in order to keep their jobs."

Repeating Unite's call for a GBP13 billion strategic assistance fund for the manufacturing and car industry, joint general secretary Tony Woodley said:

"Our car industry is taking a battering and it urgently needs state assistance. This is a no brainer - we must get credit lines running and above all, hear from Government that its priority is to keep people in work."

"Ministers must stop dilly-dallying. Aid for our car industry is now a matter of urgency, including money to support workers who must take a dramatic cut in wages to hang onto their jobs. While the US, Germany and our other competitors are teeing up their second assistance schemes to protect their manufacturing sector, our country has yet to implement its first. If we do not have action now, our industry will not be fit for purpose when the economic upturn comes."

Local Unite officer, Jim D'Avila added: "Our members are stunned, and worried about what next. They know that the severe drop in demand means pain for the workforce but we are working with the management team at Honda to ensure that people are kept in work. Our priority now is to save jobs and help the workforce through these very tough times."