Page last updated at 16:55 GMT, Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Toyota considers short work week

Toyota factory
Job losses are not included in the proposed measures

Production could be cut at one of the UK's major car manufacturers as sales slump in the global downturn.

Toyota said it was considering introducing a shorter working week and completely suspending production in a bid to reduce costs.

The firm, which employs 3,900 in Derbyshire and 600 in Flintshire, has already suspended night shifts and is planning two 14-day shutdowns.

A spokesman said no changes had been confirmed and discussions were ongoing.

Toyota spokesman Steve Carter added any cuts would affect both sites but were necessary to try to safeguard jobs.

Right now the company is discussing options with employees but redundancies are not on the agenda
Mark Tami MP, Alyn and Deeside MP

Mr Carter said: "Our employees recognise further action is needed to maintain the employment levels at the factory.

"But redundancies are not included in the measures which have been put forward by the company."

Last week the firm denied rumours of job cuts in the US and UK after experiencing a 4% drop in global sales.

It is expected to declare its first-ever loss, which is likely to to be over £1bn, at the end of the financial year.

Factories in Japan have also been temporarily closed in an effort to reduce the stock of unsold vehicles.

'Doom and gloom'

Last month, the company announced it had put on hold is planned £88m investment in a new Auris 1.3 litre NR engine at its engine plant in Flintshire. Production had been due to start later this year.

Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami said he had been assured that workers' jobs were safe.

He said: "Toyota has the finest reputation for quality engineering and there is no doubt that once the economy has recovered it will be at the forefront of new technologies.

"Right now the company is discussing options with employees, but redundancies are not on the agenda."

Martin Fry, an employee representative at Deeside plant, said workers had been told the company was seeking to reduce its wage bill by between 10 and 20%, which could mean workers being put on a four or a four-and-a-half day week.

He said Toyota was open to suggestions because it was trying to avoid lay offs but on current production levels the firm had 1,200 "surplus" employees between Deeside and the Burnaston assembly plant.

Residents in nearby Queensferry were worried about the impact on the Flintshire area.

Grocer Barry Whittle said "Quite a lot of people come off the industrial estate into Queensferry because there's a lot of food places here so it affects everybody.

"There are jobs going at Corus in Shotton so this is another blow."

Andrew Beck who runs a bathroom and tiles business said: "It's all doom and gloom at the moment. The two biggest employers in the area are Airbus and Toyota so this will have a big effect on Queensferry. It seems like a sign of the times.

Another resident Jennie Hughes said: "It's the not knowing that's the worst, I know people who just don't know if they'lll still have a job on Monday."

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