Union fights to save Honda’s associates

UNION leaders have set out their stall in redundancy negotiations with Honda – as it emerged workers on fixed-term contracts are having their periods of employment extended.

The Japanese car giant held a presentation for Unite officials at its plant in South Marston yesterday to explain its decision to axe 800 jobs at the facility.

The union wants to negotiate generous severance packages and also wants permanent employees’ jobs safeguarded over temporary workers and contractors.

Staff on 12-month contracts have been told they will have their periods of employment extended despite the cull – but will still be considered for redundancy.

A letter sent to one contract worker said his term of employment would be renewed for another 12 months on February 20 to enable him to be eligible for the same redundancy process as other employees.

The letter reads: “HUM [Honda of the UK Manufacturing] announced that it would be entering a period of statutory consultation with regard to a number of proposed redundancies.

“HUM also stated that regardless of their employment contract, associates would be subject to the same consultation and, if appropriate, consultation period in order for the process to take place fairly and equally, HUM will offer to extend your contract by a further 12 months.”

Honda has made the move in order to comply with employment law, but it comes after a long-serving worker told the Adver he feared cheaper temporary workers would be kept on at the expense of older, permanent associates.

The issue will be one raised by Jim D’Avila, Unite’s regional organiser, who has assembled a team ahead of the start of formal negotiations this week.

“We will be pressing Honda incredibly hard to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies,” he said.

“We’ll be pulling no punches under the banner of ‘Honda jobs for Honda associates’ to make sure that Honda workers are able to take over work currently carried out by contractors.

“We’ll also be insisting Honda offer a generous voluntary severance package for all workers, including new starters and old hands, and we’ll be looking at the working time account to see whether there’s any scope to reduce working time and protect jobs long-term.”

The negotiations begin in earnest on Thursday and the redundancies are expected to take place mid-April.

“The Unite team will be made up of all 14 shop stewards and headed by myself,” Mr D’Avila said.

“We are also calling in an additional three representatives to cover areas where previously we haven’t had much representation.

“The reps will have a three-day training course next week supplied by the union to cover all matters relation to redundancies.”

A spokesman for Honda said: “I can confirm the first consultation was attended by Honda of the UK Manufacturing, Unite and elected representatives from within the factory.”

Comments (21)

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4:40pm Sat 26 Jan 13

R46yam says...

Lets hope that Unite negotiate for the best deal for the workforce rather than themselves, over the last two years Unite have turned down pay rises offered by Honda so as to negotiate a better deal, on both occasions the workforce have been left with a smaller offer on the table. I can't see how Unite see this as acceptable. There is a growing resentment within the factory that Unite are only in it for themselves. New starters are pushed to join the Union on there first days induction, it is no longer a choice!
Lets hope that Unite negotiate for the best deal for the workforce rather than themselves, over the last two years Unite have turned down pay rises offered by Honda so as to negotiate a better deal, on both occasions the workforce have been left with a smaller offer on the table. I can't see how Unite see this as acceptable. There is a growing resentment within the factory that Unite are only in it for themselves. New starters are pushed to join the Union on there first days induction, it is no longer a choice! R46yam

8:13pm Sat 26 Jan 13

Michael Myers says...

As a Honda Associate, and Unite member, this story has me a little confused. Unite seem to be stirring it up, as usual, after the original announcement 2 weeks ago stated that Fixed Term contracts, and Permanent contracts were to all be liable to the same criteria. Where is the story here? Apart from Jim D'Avila trying to sound like he is doing something, when all he has done is confirm what we already know. The Union seem to have no basic argument with Honda, and I agree with R46yam, hopefully not just in it for themselves...again.
As a Honda Associate, and Unite member, this story has me a little confused. Unite seem to be stirring it up, as usual, after the original announcement 2 weeks ago stated that Fixed Term contracts, and Permanent contracts were to all be liable to the same criteria. Where is the story here? Apart from Jim D'Avila trying to sound like he is doing something, when all he has done is confirm what we already know. The Union seem to have no basic argument with Honda, and I agree with R46yam, hopefully not just in it for themselves...again. Michael Myers

9:24pm Sat 26 Jan 13

Ian13 says...

14 shop stewards! How much work do they do towards making cars?
14 shop stewards! How much work do they do towards making cars? Ian13

3:48am Sun 27 Jan 13

SimonPrice351 says...

Won't be long before they pull out completely.

The Japanese don't care about Swindon.
Won't be long before they pull out completely. The Japanese don't care about Swindon. SimonPrice351

10:04am Sun 27 Jan 13

RichardR1 says...

Simon given some of the vicious things posted in this periodical over the years why should they. They are trying to run a business in difficult circumstances their associates are very well paid compared to the average in Swindon, but seem to get nothing but grief from the union, and other vested interests.
Simon given some of the vicious things posted in this periodical over the years why should they. They are trying to run a business in difficult circumstances their associates are very well paid compared to the average in Swindon, but seem to get nothing but grief from the union, and other vested interests. RichardR1

12:10pm Sun 27 Jan 13

BWB says...

In a few months time you will find Honda doing a recruitment drive.
BUT you will sign a contract that you accept a lower rate of pay. There are plenty out there
Who will jump at a job paying £8.00 per hour, and their NOT British. One of Hondas subsidiaries employing mainly foreigners has just given them a rise taking their wage up to
£7.00 per hour. They are delighted. Do they not realise that is required by law as minimum wage.
In a few months time you will find Honda doing a recruitment drive. BUT you will sign a contract that you accept a lower rate of pay. There are plenty out there Who will jump at a job paying £8.00 per hour, and their NOT British. One of Hondas subsidiaries employing mainly foreigners has just given them a rise taking their wage up to £7.00 per hour. They are delighted. Do they not realise that is required by law as minimum wage. BWB

5:11pm Sun 27 Jan 13

asimo says...

BWB wrote:
In a few months time you will find Honda doing a recruitment drive.
BUT you will sign a contract that you accept a lower rate of pay. There are plenty out there
Who will jump at a job paying £8.00 per hour, and their NOT British. One of Hondas subsidiaries employing mainly foreigners has just given them a rise taking their wage up to
£7.00 per hour. They are delighted. Do they not realise that is required by law as minimum wage.
My father, who works at Honda said that no wonder the company tried to remove the union a couple of years ago due to what Honda are now doing ref redundancies. ., . workers should thank their lucky stars that they have someone to fight their corner. BWB spot on with your comments. Having read some of the other postings I don't quite understand why the union is under the spot light for something that is not the fault of the union or its members, or workers in general. My dad said the Japs planned to recruit as many workers on lower pay as possible and it has been this greed that has now left Honda workers fighting among themselves for their jobs and families. . Well done Power of Dreams, eh. Shame on you ! As for the other rubbish about Unite rejecting pay deals ? Was it the union or its members who rejected one pay deal that was a seam of gold for one group of workers and a crock of * hit for those on long shifts ? How many stewards make the cars. . They all do. . .which can't be said for a lot of the office staff playing solitaire and twiddling their thumbs most of the day. My dad said that anti union tripe will always attack unions because they don't have the nuts to tell their employers " fork off " when workers are being played. . ! I hope Unite and all its members kick back against the company's disgraceful tactics ! !
[quote][p][bold]BWB[/bold] wrote: In a few months time you will find Honda doing a recruitment drive. BUT you will sign a contract that you accept a lower rate of pay. There are plenty out there Who will jump at a job paying £8.00 per hour, and their NOT British. One of Hondas subsidiaries employing mainly foreigners has just given them a rise taking their wage up to £7.00 per hour. They are delighted. Do they not realise that is required by law as minimum wage.[/p][/quote]My father, who works at Honda said that no wonder the company tried to remove the union a couple of years ago due to what Honda are now doing ref redundancies. ., . workers should thank their lucky stars that they have someone to fight their corner. BWB spot on with your comments. Having read some of the other postings I don't quite understand why the union is under the spot light for something that is not the fault of the union or its members, or workers in general. My dad said the Japs planned to recruit as many workers on lower pay as possible and it has been this greed that has now left Honda workers fighting among themselves for their jobs and families. . Well done Power of Dreams, eh. Shame on you ! As for the other rubbish about Unite rejecting pay deals ? Was it the union or its members who rejected one pay deal that was a seam of gold for one group of workers and a crock of * hit for those on long shifts ? How many stewards make the cars. . They all do. . .which can't be said for a lot of the office staff playing solitaire and twiddling their thumbs most of the day. My dad said that anti union tripe will always attack unions because they don't have the nuts to tell their employers " fork off " when workers are being played. . ! I hope Unite and all its members kick back against the company's disgraceful tactics ! ! asimo

7:25pm Sun 27 Jan 13

Davey Gravey says...

Sounds like all the other industry and jobs in Britain. Going backwards with employees rights being destroyed and wages hit. Not to mention increased workloads and loss of rights. For all the progress that has been made why let fat cats cream off whilst workers get Shafted? I'd advise anyone to join a union as you will probably need them the way things are going.
Sounds like all the other industry and jobs in Britain. Going backwards with employees rights being destroyed and wages hit. Not to mention increased workloads and loss of rights. For all the progress that has been made why let fat cats cream off whilst workers get Shafted? I'd advise anyone to join a union as you will probably need them the way things are going. Davey Gravey

8:04pm Sun 27 Jan 13

Honda_activist says...

As usual we hear the good old " if they only agreed with the bosses. This is business, Honda want the greatest profit with the minimal outlay. They want a piece of the cheap labour thats about, and to this end they will shaft their loyal workforce. All those mocking here like the first 3 in this article, look to your own job, cos its coming there, cos spineless idiots like you are bringing it on.

Honda have renewed contracts to ensure the pool they took on can be kept at the expense of the full timers, its a dirty game and indeed not "respect for the individual", but then its not the "Power of dreams either", still Honda reported a profit of £1.1Bn in 2012, not bad in a recession.
As usual we hear the good old " if they only agreed with the bosses. This is business, Honda want the greatest profit with the minimal outlay. They want a piece of the cheap labour thats about, and to this end they will shaft their loyal workforce. All those mocking here like the first 3 in this article, look to your own job, cos its coming there, cos spineless idiots like you are bringing it on. Honda have renewed contracts to ensure the pool they took on can be kept at the expense of the full timers, its a dirty game and indeed not "respect for the individual", but then its not the "Power of dreams either", still Honda reported a profit of £1.1Bn in 2012, not bad in a recession. Honda_activist

8:15pm Sun 27 Jan 13

Honda_activist says...

R46yam wrote:
Lets hope that Unite negotiate for the best deal for the workforce rather than themselves, over the last two years Unite have turned down pay rises offered by Honda so as to negotiate a better deal, on both occasions the workforce have been left with a smaller offer on the table. I can't see how Unite see this as acceptable. There is a growing resentment within the factory that Unite are only in it for themselves. New starters are pushed to join the Union on there first days induction, it is no longer a choice!
Nobodies pushed, you get apresentation and the choice is yours, over 90% are members on the assembly lines, and despite your thoughts, they vote to reject these "Golden" deals and "Carrots", because they couldn't see why they needed 42 hours as a standard week, they were suspicious and they have been proved right. Members turn down pay rises, Unite follow their members wishes. If they vote to accept, then accept it is, but at least Unite gives them a choice, more than Honda ever did prior to 2001 !!!
[quote][p][bold]R46yam[/bold] wrote: Lets hope that Unite negotiate for the best deal for the workforce rather than themselves, over the last two years Unite have turned down pay rises offered by Honda so as to negotiate a better deal, on both occasions the workforce have been left with a smaller offer on the table. I can't see how Unite see this as acceptable. There is a growing resentment within the factory that Unite are only in it for themselves. New starters are pushed to join the Union on there first days induction, it is no longer a choice![/p][/quote]Nobodies pushed, you get apresentation and the choice is yours, over 90% are members on the assembly lines, and despite your thoughts, they vote to reject these "Golden" deals and "Carrots", because they couldn't see why they needed 42 hours as a standard week, they were suspicious and they have been proved right. Members turn down pay rises, Unite follow their members wishes. If they vote to accept, then accept it is, but at least Unite gives them a choice, more than Honda ever did prior to 2001 !!! Honda_activist

8:20pm Sun 27 Jan 13

Honda_activist says...

Michael Myers wrote:
As a Honda Associate, and Unite member, this story has me a little confused. Unite seem to be stirring it up, as usual, after the original announcement 2 weeks ago stated that Fixed Term contracts, and Permanent contracts were to all be liable to the same criteria. Where is the story here? Apart from Jim D'Avila trying to sound like he is doing something, when all he has done is confirm what we already know. The Union seem to have no basic argument with Honda, and I agree with R46yam, hopefully not just in it for themselves...again.
The renewal of those contracts is a way round the Redundancy regulations. The contracts could have been allowed to elapse on the due date, renewal makes the putting off of any of these entitled to at least 10 months pay, **** site better than any of the rest of us will get, who will be chosen 10 months 21 year old or 40+ on 19 weeks, mmm I wonder, get a grip your being conned out of the door. Honda "Power of Dreams" more like "Cheap labour is us"
[quote][p][bold]Michael Myers[/bold] wrote: As a Honda Associate, and Unite member, this story has me a little confused. Unite seem to be stirring it up, as usual, after the original announcement 2 weeks ago stated that Fixed Term contracts, and Permanent contracts were to all be liable to the same criteria. Where is the story here? Apart from Jim D'Avila trying to sound like he is doing something, when all he has done is confirm what we already know. The Union seem to have no basic argument with Honda, and I agree with R46yam, hopefully not just in it for themselves...again.[/p][/quote]The renewal of those contracts is a way round the Redundancy regulations. The contracts could have been allowed to elapse on the due date, renewal makes the putting off of any of these entitled to at least 10 months pay, **** site better than any of the rest of us will get, who will be chosen 10 months 21 year old or 40+ on 19 weeks, mmm I wonder, get a grip your being conned out of the door. Honda "Power of Dreams" more like "Cheap labour is us" Honda_activist

8:23pm Sun 27 Jan 13

Honda_activist says...

Ian13 wrote:
14 shop stewards! How much work do they do towards making cars?
The number of Stewards is in line with Honda HR Policy, their ARC was set up by them years prior to Unite recognition. So I'm afraid if you don't agree contact HUM HR team.
[quote][p][bold]Ian13[/bold] wrote: 14 shop stewards! How much work do they do towards making cars?[/p][/quote]The number of Stewards is in line with Honda HR Policy, their ARC was set up by them years prior to Unite recognition. So I'm afraid if you don't agree contact HUM HR team. Honda_activist

8:27pm Sun 27 Jan 13

Honda_activist says...

SimonPrice351 wrote:
Won't be long before they pull out completely.

The Japanese don't care about Swindon.
I'd love to say Simon is wrong, but in the current climate i'd say he is probably right, Swindon make Rh & Lh drive cars as do Japan, as sales fall if the choice arises, i fear there is only one answer, however it is anfair to say the Japanese don't care, because they regard failure very seriously and will have tried all avenues to avoid Failure in their eyes!!,
[quote][p][bold]SimonPrice351[/bold] wrote: Won't be long before they pull out completely. The Japanese don't care about Swindon.[/p][/quote]I'd love to say Simon is wrong, but in the current climate i'd say he is probably right, Swindon make Rh & Lh drive cars as do Japan, as sales fall if the choice arises, i fear there is only one answer, however it is anfair to say the Japanese don't care, because they regard failure very seriously and will have tried all avenues to avoid Failure in their eyes!!, Honda_activist

8:34pm Sun 27 Jan 13

Honda_activist says...

RichardR1 wrote:
Simon given some of the vicious things posted in this periodical over the years why should they. They are trying to run a business in difficult circumstances their associates are very well paid compared to the average in Swindon, but seem to get nothing but grief from the union, and other vested interests.
The relationship between Unite and Honda is actually very good, there is a "No strike" agreement, there has never been a "ballot for industrial action", only the odd arbitration (binding) on pay. As for the "Very well paid", the turnover of staff does not suggest this, the work is hard and what all the line assembly guys and gals earn is well deserved, there are no feather bedded processes 42 seconds to fit a dashboard. We all know our places, the company does what it has to do, as do Unite, but the members decide !!!
[quote][p][bold]RichardR1[/bold] wrote: Simon given some of the vicious things posted in this periodical over the years why should they. They are trying to run a business in difficult circumstances their associates are very well paid compared to the average in Swindon, but seem to get nothing but grief from the union, and other vested interests.[/p][/quote]The relationship between Unite and Honda is actually very good, there is a "No strike" agreement, there has never been a "ballot for industrial action", only the odd arbitration (binding) on pay. As for the "Very well paid", the turnover of staff does not suggest this, the work is hard and what all the line assembly guys and gals earn is well deserved, there are no feather bedded processes 42 seconds to fit a dashboard. We all know our places, the company does what it has to do, as do Unite, but the members decide !!! Honda_activist

8:36pm Sun 27 Jan 13

Honda_activist says...

BWB wrote:
In a few months time you will find Honda doing a recruitment drive.
BUT you will sign a contract that you accept a lower rate of pay. There are plenty out there
Who will jump at a job paying £8.00 per hour, and their NOT British. One of Hondas subsidiaries employing mainly foreigners has just given them a rise taking their wage up to
£7.00 per hour. They are delighted. Do they not realise that is required by law as minimum wage.
Exactly that, its a business restructure to get rid of the people no longer fit after 20 years on that line, with no decent compensation.
[quote][p][bold]BWB[/bold] wrote: In a few months time you will find Honda doing a recruitment drive. BUT you will sign a contract that you accept a lower rate of pay. There are plenty out there Who will jump at a job paying £8.00 per hour, and their NOT British. One of Hondas subsidiaries employing mainly foreigners has just given them a rise taking their wage up to £7.00 per hour. They are delighted. Do they not realise that is required by law as minimum wage.[/p][/quote]Exactly that, its a business restructure to get rid of the people no longer fit after 20 years on that line, with no decent compensation. Honda_activist

8:40pm Sun 27 Jan 13

Honda_activist says...

Davey Gravey wrote:
Sounds like all the other industry and jobs in Britain. Going backwards with employees rights being destroyed and wages hit. Not to mention increased workloads and loss of rights. For all the progress that has been made why let fat cats cream off whilst workers get Shafted? I'd advise anyone to join a union as you will probably need them the way things are going.
Unions are fighting to preserve a decent working environment, join or there's ony one answer "Dock the forelock" to Cameron and the "Bullingdon club" boys. You wil be treated like dogs and thrown the scraps from the table !!!
[quote][p][bold]Davey Gravey[/bold] wrote: Sounds like all the other industry and jobs in Britain. Going backwards with employees rights being destroyed and wages hit. Not to mention increased workloads and loss of rights. For all the progress that has been made why let fat cats cream off whilst workers get Shafted? I'd advise anyone to join a union as you will probably need them the way things are going.[/p][/quote]Unions are fighting to preserve a decent working environment, join or there's ony one answer "Dock the forelock" to Cameron and the "Bullingdon club" boys. You wil be treated like dogs and thrown the scraps from the table !!! Honda_activist

12:54am Mon 28 Jan 13

SpeakUp says...

How many union leaders jobs are "at risk"? None. Yet they proclaim to know how the real workers feel. Hypocrites. Union fees fund fat cat union leaders who do very little (maybe no) good for their members. Sad but true. In the real world, companies make hard decisions and employees have to live with them. That is the way of the world., sadly, so why give your precious earnings to union "reps" who are not sharing the risks with you despite their reassuring words?
How many union leaders jobs are "at risk"? None. Yet they proclaim to know how the real workers feel. Hypocrites. Union fees fund fat cat union leaders who do very little (maybe no) good for their members. Sad but true. In the real world, companies make hard decisions and employees have to live with them. That is the way of the world., sadly, so why give your precious earnings to union "reps" who are not sharing the risks with you despite their reassuring words? SpeakUp

8:12am Mon 28 Jan 13

RichardR1 says...

Honda_activist are you a shop steward by any chance. I simply ask because you seem able to explain away the unions actions and how the company functions.

All I would say is the company has plants all over the world where pay rates are a fraction of those in the UK, so do you not think if this was just about cost, they would simply leave.

Moving from say a country where pay is £2000/month to one where it is £500/month or less in these economic times would for many companies be a first option. It seems however that Honda are not doing that.

How ever hard done by some think they are, with an average in Swindon of less than £15k/year, if you can find a job, Honda workers aren't badly off.
Honda_activist are you a shop steward by any chance. I simply ask because you seem able to explain away the unions actions and how the company functions. All I would say is the company has plants all over the world where pay rates are a fraction of those in the UK, so do you not think if this was just about cost, they would simply leave. Moving from say a country where pay is £2000/month to one where it is £500/month or less in these economic times would for many companies be a first option. It seems however that Honda are not doing that. How ever hard done by some think they are, with an average in Swindon of less than £15k/year, if you can find a job, Honda workers aren't badly off. RichardR1

9:41am Mon 28 Jan 13

Tim Newroman says...


There is a growing resentment within the factory that Unite are only in it for themselves.

All unions exist for the benefit of the union leaders. If they manage to negotiate a deal for their members, it's only because the company owners are happy to allow such a deal in any case.

All large companies routinely hoodwink union officials without them even realising. It's quite amusing... unless you're a union member on not much money who has been effectively blackmailed and coerced into joining and handing over your hard earned money.
[quote] There is a growing resentment within the factory that Unite are only in it for themselves. [/quote] All unions exist for the benefit of the union leaders. If they manage to negotiate a deal for their members, it's only because the company owners are happy to allow such a deal in any case. [p] All large companies routinely hoodwink union officials without them even realising. It's quite amusing... unless you're a union member on not much money who has been effectively blackmailed and coerced into joining and handing over your hard earned money. Tim Newroman

1:37pm Mon 28 Jan 13

EmmBee says...

I wonder how much Honda's decision to axe these jobs in Swindon is related to the fact they couldn't build their wind turbines?
I wonder how much Honda's decision to axe these jobs in Swindon is related to the fact they couldn't build their wind turbines? EmmBee

2:01pm Mon 28 Jan 13

house on the hill says...

""EmmBee says...
1:37pm Mon 28 Jan 13

I wonder how much Honda's decision to axe these jobs in Swindon is related to the fact they couldn't build their wind turbines?”""

I think you will find it has more to do with just not having the cars to compete anymore. They have stood still while others have developed and new companies have come along offering better value for money cars. In a recession people are going be more swayed by price than ever before especially when there cars are no longer anywhere near the top of their respective classes.

I dont think there are hidden agendas here just bad managment decisions and no one buying thier cars anymore.
""EmmBee says... 1:37pm Mon 28 Jan 13 I wonder how much Honda's decision to axe these jobs in Swindon is related to the fact they couldn't build their wind turbines?”"" I think you will find it has more to do with just not having the cars to compete anymore. They have stood still while others have developed and new companies have come along offering better value for money cars. In a recession people are going be more swayed by price than ever before especially when there cars are no longer anywhere near the top of their respective classes. I dont think there are hidden agendas here just bad managment decisions and no one buying thier cars anymore. house on the hill

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