Japanese auto major Nissan will reduce its headcount by 1,200 employees to protect the long term viability of its manufacturing operations in Sunderland, the UK's largest car exporter and producer.
Dramatic decline in customer demand which is affecting all car makers has forced the Sunderland Plant to implement measures to adjust volume in line with the market. "To ensure Sunderland Plant does not over-supply a weakening market, one shift from both production lines will be trimmed during January-March 2009," Nissan said in a statement.
As a result of this new working pattern, and to match forecast volume requirements throughout 2009, Nissan has notified the Local Works Council and the 'Unite' union of its intention to reduce overall production headcount by around 1,200, of which 400 are staff on temporary contracts, and it is intended these would not be renewed beyond January.
Reacting to this, Unite's Joint General Secretary Derek Simpson said: "This is devastating news for the workers and their families. Today's announcement shows just how serious Britain's economic difficulties are. Unite will be doing everything possible to minimise compulsory redundancies". It added, "there is no doubt that 2009 is going to be a harsh year.
Gordon Brown must continue to do what it takes to stimulate the economy and get people spending again. These job cuts lay bare the human cost of the credit crunch". The Japanese auto major said "the long term future of the plant must remain our over-riding priority. However, as always, Nissan will continue to make every effort to minimise the impact on its employees and their families."
"The statutory consultation period will determine how best to adjust permanent headcounts, but it is hoped that this can be managed on a voluntary basis," Nissan added. Meanwhile, Trevor Mann, Nissan Senior Vice-President for manufacturing, Europe, said: "like all manufacturers, Sunderland Plant is currently operating in extraordinary circumstances not of our making. It is essential we take the right action now to ensure we are in a strong and viable position once business conditions return to normal." "Unavoidably, this means we have had to make some very tough decisions in recent weeks. However, by doing so, we are helping to safeguard our long term future which I believe is extremely positive," Mann added.
The 2009 outlook for the car market remains extremely challenging, but Nissan is committed to taking the right action now to safeguard the plant's long term sustainability, Nissan added.