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HONDA: 'Firm no longer a beacon of hope'
6:39pm Friday 11th January 2013 in News
A BEACON of hope for the nation’s return to economic health has been extinguished with yet more turbulent times looming on the horizon, according to Unite union’s regional organiser.
Jim D’Avila said Honda’s Swindon plant had been held up as an example of the recovery but its problems cut much deeper than yesterday’s announcement.
The veteran campaigner said that the 800 job losses announced by the car giant did not include another 325 agency staff who will also be axed, and the market for Honda cars depended on buyers who are reining in the purse strings.
He was involved in the start of a series of negotiations at the South Marston plant to ensure pay-offs for members and to avoid compulsory redundancies.
The scenes were far removed from business secretary Vince Cable’s visit to the plant in September, which came on the back of Honda driver David Cameron’s praise for the Japanese firm.
Mr D’Avila said: “Even though we could see the writing on the wall, it still comes as a devastating blow. We are talking about a good quarter of the manufacturing capacity going in one hit. I suppose the real body-blow is that me, Honda, the unions and the country have all been holding Honda up as a beacon of hope because they have been recruiting and things have been looking good. There has been the hope that this has been the start of the end of the recession in the UK.
“Now that beacon has been well and truly extinguished.”
Mr D’Avila said the union had made it clear it would oppose any compulsory redundancies and the packages should be attractive. “Honda have got to pay their way out of this problem,” he said.
Mr D’Avila, who negotiated redundancies with Honda in 2009 and 2011, said that the actual number of job losses was more than 1,100 with agency workers.