German automaker BMW on Monday said it would lay off 850 workers at its plant in Cowley, England, where it makes the Mini, as the global economic slowdown hits demand for the iconic car.
In a statement, BMW said contracted agency workers on the weekend shift would be affected by the downsizing that will come into force on March 2 when the plant begins operating five days a week instead of seven.
"While Mini has been weathering the economic downturn, it is not immune from the challenges of the current situation," it said.
"Against this backdrop the company felt that a review of its shift patterns was necessary," it said, adding: This decision has not been taken lightly."
BMW, which is struggling in its key North American market, has previously said its overall 2008 vehicle sales were down five percent from the year before, and that Mini sales were off by 35 per cent in January this year.