A task force has been established to support the hundreds of Swindon workers at risk of redundancy following car giant Honda’s latest cutbacks and to minimise any potential impact on the town’s economy.
The Japanese car giant last month announced it will axe around 500 jobs and close one of its two production lines at its Swindon plant as its sales in Europe continue to struggle.
The move, which will also reduce its three shifts to two, is the latest blow to workers at the Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) plant at South Marston following the loss of nearly 600 jobs last year. The plant employs around 3,000 people.
Now a number of organisations in Swindon have come together to make sure those affected get access to other jobs, training to upgrade their skills or support in other ways.
Chaired by Forward Swindon, the council’s economic generation company, the task force includes representatives from the public and private sectors, local and central government, including Swindon Borough Council, the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP), the Skills Funding Agency, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), Business West, UKTI, Swindon two MPs Robert Buckland and Justin Tomlinson and representatives of local businesses as well as Honda itself.
The initiative aims to help those affected to transition into other employment in the area and will seek to direct local and central Government resources and programmes to help individuals make that change as quickly and smoothly as possible.
The task force will act as a conduit to connect firms seeking new staff with suitably-qualified individuals leaving Honda.
Project manager Jill Annal said: “Honda staff are known for having a strong work ethic, for being highly-trained and highly-motivated team workers. Those skills would be an asset to anyone and we would like to hear from organisations that have openings for such highly-skilled workers.”
A special email address firstname.lastname@example.org has been set up so employers can contact the task force directly to discuss any vacancies they may be able to offer.
The task force is working with HUM to brief staff at the plant on their options during the initial period when they will have the opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy if they wish. Once agreement is reached on who will be leaving the company, the task force will help the individuals affected.
Honda has blamed lower-than-expected sales in Europe, particularly in countries such as Italy and Spain for the job cuts. These redundancies will be effective from May 23.