Nissan staff on Wearside have been sent home after production was suspended because of the economic downturn.
The firm halted production of two models at its Sunderland site in response to a decline in demand as a result of the global financial crisis.
Workers were sent home on Tuesday until 15 December. There will then be three further days of non-production before the plant closes for Christmas.
The car company said it is monitoring sales through the economic crisis.
The 3,500 production staff are expected to remain on full pay and return to work as normal in January.
A Nissan spokesperson said: "The economic crisis continues to significantly affect all car makers globally.
"It is essential that Sunderland continues taking the right action now to protect the future of the company by matching volume to softening customer demand.
"Business conditions remain highly volatile and Sunderland will continue to take any appropriate action if and when needed."
Roger Maddison, from Unite, which has about 2,000 members at the plant, said that the company was handling the situation in the right way.
"In the current economic climate every car company in Europe is having 'down days' in the run-up to Christmas, but many are not keeping workers on full pay.
"Compared with a lot of other car companies, Nissan has stood by their workers.
"However, we do believe things will get worse before they get better.
"The industry needs the Government to come up with some urgent measures to help support and protect car manufacturing in the UK."