LONDON (AP) -- Some 4,200 auto workers at Honda's British plant worked their last shift on Friday before a four-month layoff as the Japanese carmaker seeks to cut costs.
The company is stopping production at its plant in Swindon, in the south of England, because of falling sales due to a global recession and plans to resume work on June 1.
Honda, which had announced the move on Nov. 21, says the workers will continue to receive their full basic pay for two months, and 60 percent of that amount for the remainder of the break.
"Everyone knows cars aren't selling. And it's not just Honda, it's other manufacturers as well, so what's the point in producing cars if no one is buying them?" said Paul North, 38, who works in the engine plant.
Auto production in Britain fell 47.5 percent in December compared to the same month in 2007, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
New car registrations in 2008 were down 11 percent to 2.1 million, the group said.
Honda reported on Friday that its profit in the last three months of 2008 was down 90 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.
"Everyone is feeling a bit down as we're all facing four months off, and we're all a bit worried that it might be more," said Paul Wiseman, 33, who works in the engine plant.
"Honda is trying their best, and there's always a fear that we could lose our jobs, but Honda have told the staff its future is in Swindon," Wiseman added.
Dave Hodgetts, senior director of planning and business administration at Honda UK, said some staff would remain at work developing the new Honda Jazz, which should go into production when the factory staff return in June.
"After the four-month break, the plan is for all the staff to come back and their jobs will be secure," Hodgetts said.
"No one could forecast the impact of the recession on the industry. We've had to take this severe action."