A UNION representative who worked with Honda to secure an 'unprecedented' redundancy package for the workforce thinks it will be hard for them to find similar jobs that are as well-paid.

Alan Tomala from Unite remarked on the unusually generous payout for the South Marston plant's staff which sees them receive six-and-a-half weeks pay per every year of service with no cap limiting the total amount.

This will help tide former factory employees over while they move into a new role, though work with similar hourly rates will be hard to come by.

So Mr Tomala expects the full impact of the plant's closure will not be fully felt until that redundancy money starts to run out.

He said:“This week really brings home the reality of the closure. On a personal and professional level, it’s a significant and sad week.

"There will be mixed emotions in the plant itself – those retiring will look at it as a new chapter in their lives while those looking for new work will find it difficult.

“Our priority was to save the plant – we held the rally, we lobbied government – but when it became clear that we Japan was not persuaded by our valid and robust arguments, we looked to negotiate a good redundancy package. We made sure that British workers would not be going cheap.

“The work the union reps did through that process was great and we secured unprecedented redundancy terms that we have not seen before and I don’t think we will ever see one of that magnitude again.

“My big question now is what’s next for the community and economy in Swindon and the supply chain plants.

“The labour market in and around Swindon has plenty of jobs but they’re not comparable to the ones being lost at Honda – factory work gets half the hourly rate they had there.

“After the gates close, there will be a lull of a few months before the reality begins to bite in autumn and winter, which is not the best time to look for a job, that’s when we’ll see the real impact of the closure.

“Decommissioning the factory and Panattoni coming in will take some time, but the £700m investment is welcome.

Alan worked for Honda from 1995 to 2007, which he described as “a different era” which he and the union helped to change for the better.

He added: “There was no trade union recognition then. My colleagues and I built that up, made sure it had a place at the table and removed the stereotype of unions going on strike at the drop of the hat, it's always a last resort.

“There has not been a single day of industrial action at the plant and we have improved the contract terms and the working conditions which is positive for the workforce as well as the management and their employer.

“Through Unite’s involvement, it’s reached a point where it’s now unrecognisable to what it had been like when I was there.”

A recruitment agency employee agrees with the suggestion that former Honda workers may struggle to find a new job that matches their old salary.

Ashley Thompson of Opex Recruitment said there are plenty of job opportunities but none with the same hourly rate.

She told BBC Wiltshire: "There's plenty of work to go around but the biggest challenge for these guys is going to be their salary expectations.

"A lot of the Honda workers have been there for many years and were on very generous salary and benefits packages.

"Say you're a production operative for 20 years for more than £20 an hour.

"More realistically, you are looking at minimum wage or £10 an hour at most. There will be a reality check for ex-Honda workers but there is an abundance of jobs out there."