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Carnage in the auto industry


The motor industry in Swindon has been dealt two hammer blows: after the abrupt sacking at BMW’s Cowley plant of 850 agency workers, the town’s BMW plant has enforced lay-offs, sending all staff home for seven days and another 150 jobs are expected to go permanently.

The nearby Honda factory has been mothballed for four months, and 4,200 workers laid off till June, on fractional pay. The Japanese company had planned to close for two months, but has since doubled the closure period. Unite estimate that 10,000 workers in the town are directly or indirectly affected by the shut-down.

Elsewhere in the country, as Workers goes to press, an announcement was expected of the closure of another major motor plant, with 100,000 jobs at risk

Mandelson, who has left government twice in a hurry, was recalled for a third time, with a peerage, after several years in Brussels. Last year he promised a defence of manufacturing. The reality? Honda did indeed apply for help from Mandelson’s department, but a bail-out, not for the Swindon plant or their bulk car production activities, but for Honda Racing, their Formula One arm.