Steane Klose | Jan 20, 2009

Things have gone from bad to worse for Honda operations in the UK. Honda's Swindon plant was initially to be shut down for February and March in the face of declining sales, but that shutdown has now been extended through April and May.

That's four long months of inactivity and clearly indicates just how bad things have become for the automotive industry.

Honda UK explained the reasoning behind the move (no surprises here folks):

"The global financial situation has continued to affect consumer confidence in the car market," it said.

Derek Simpson, joint general secretary for the UK's largest union, Unite, outlined the need for government assisstance:

"This latest additional shutdown underlines the urgent need for state assistance for our car industry. Now, the Honda workforce is facing a 50 percent cut in wages, and are frightened for their jobs and futures. They, along with the rest of the car and components industry, desperately need to see some form of lifeline being thrown to the sector from the Government.

"We also need immediate financial support for workers, such as those at Honda, who must take a cut in pay in order to keep their jobs," Mr Simpson said.

As with other automakers surrounded by markets in recession, these are tough times for Honda UK. Comments from Honda CEO Takeo Fukui that the Japanese manufacturer must get back to producing small fuel-efficient transportation are signs of a new shift occurring within. (Though it might now be a little harder to realise.)

When companies like Honda struggle to keep the factory doors open, there are some seriously rough seas on the horizon.

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