Some 400 job cuts at Mini’s Plant Oxford due to fall in demand for new

Some 400 agency jobs will be cut at Mini’s Plant Oxford after the car maker announced it would be reducing its shift pattern due to a fall in demand for new cars.

The plant in Cowley – which makes the Mini Hatchback and the new electric Mini-E – with drop from three to two shifts in mid-October following the hit on vehicles sales caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 400 cuts will be agency personnel employed by Gi Group, of which there are 950 staff at the factory which employs some 4,000 people in total.

More job losses in the motor industry: Mini will will cut 400 agency jobs in September, it confirmed in a statement today

More job losses in the motor industry: Mini will will cut 400 agency jobs in September, it confirmed in a statement today

More job losses in the motor industry: Mini will will cut 400 agency jobs in September, it confirmed in a statement today

Bosses said in a statement that it had ‘sought to protect as many jobs’ as possible, but due to a ‘substantial’ fall in customer demand in recent months would be reducing its workforce.

Like all other UK car manufacturers, owners BMW were forced to shut Plant Oxford at the end of the March as the country went into lockdown.

Production restarted in Cowley on 18 May, with the brand celebrating building more than 11,000 Mini E models in a year at the end of July.

However, with new car registrations slumping from March, officials said the brand’s ‘volume forecasts for 2020 have had to change accordingly,’ meaning a reduced shift pattern at the site. 

Staff who will lose their jobs will be informed in September.

Bosses said there will be a ‘clear criteria’ about who will be retained, including length of service, individual skill-set and disciplinary record.

In a statement, Bob Shankly, human resources director at Mini UK, said: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a substantial impact on customer demand and, like other automotive manufacturers, our volume forecasts for 2020 have had to change accordingly.

The 400 cuts will be agency personnel employed by Gi Group, of which there are 950 staff at the factory which employs some 4,000 people in total

The 400 cuts will be agency personnel employed by Gi Group, of which there are 950 staff at the factory which employs some 4,000 people in total

The 400 cuts will be agency personnel employed by Gi Group, of which there are 950 staff at the factory which employs some 4,000 people in total

Mini said it has been forced to reduce its shift pattern at the factory from three to two due to the fall in demand for new cars since Covid-19. Production restarted post-lockdown on 18 May, with the brand celebrating building more than 11,000 Mini Es (pictured) in a year last month

Mini said it has been forced to reduce its shift pattern at the factory from three to two due to the fall in demand for new cars since Covid-19. Production restarted post-lockdown on 18 May, with the brand celebrating building more than 11,000 Mini Es (pictured) in a year last month

Mini said it has been forced to reduce its shift pattern at the factory from three to two due to the fall in demand for new cars since Covid-19. Production restarted post-lockdown on 18 May, with the brand celebrating building more than 11,000 Mini Es (pictured) in a year last month

‘We have, therefore, made the difficult decision to adjust our shift patterns at MINI Plant Oxford from October. 

‘This will give us the flexibility we need to adapt our production in the short to medium term, according to developments in global markets.

‘Our decision has been made after close discussion with trade union representatives and we are aware that our plans will have an impact on people during an uncertain and worrying time.

‘We have sought to protect as many jobs as we can, while also taking the necessary steps to ensure the stability of our business in light of this current period of volatile and unpredictable market conditions.’ 

Mini was the UK’s third biggest car maker in the UK last year, producing 221,928 vehicles in total, according to official records.

Outputs were down 5.2 per cent on the year previous, as car production in the UK as a whole fell to its lowest level for almost a decade in 2019.

In the first half of 2020, UK car outputs are back another 43 per cent as a result of the pandemic, with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders claiming the sector had shed more than 11,000 jobs amid the coronavirus crisis. 

Aston Martin, Bentley and McLaren were among the latest to announce job losses in the UK.

The latter announced it May that it  was to cut 1,200 jobs from its 4,000-strong workforce after being ‘severely affected’ by the coronavirus pandemic

A month later, Aston Martin reported it will slash up to 500 jobs as part of a major restructuring and Bentley was reported to be trimming its Crewe workforce by 1,000 staff.

The Cowley factory dates back over a century, with cars being built at the site since 1913

The Cowley factory dates back over a century, with cars being built at the site since 1913

The Cowley factory dates back over a century, with cars being built at the site since 1913

Mini was the UK's third biggest car maker in the UK last year, producing 221,928 vehicles in total, according to official records

Mini was the UK's third biggest car maker in the UK last year, producing 221,928 vehicles in total, according to official records

Mini was the UK’s third biggest car maker in the UK last year, producing 221,928 vehicles in total, according to official records

While demand for new cars rose in July, registrations in the first seven months of the year remain 41 per cent lower than the same period of 2019, according to the trade body. 

Anneliese Dodds, the shadow chancellor and MP for Oxford East, and Cllr Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council, responded to the news that jobs would be cut at Plant Oxford next month.

‘Oxford’s BMW plant has been home to great innovation, with important breakthroughs like the new Electric Mini,’ they said in a joint statement.

‘We are very saddened to hear of the impact that the global economic crisis (caused by the Covid-19 pandemic) is having on the Oxford plant.

‘We are really sorry and concerned to hear that there may be job losses and we would like to express our deepest sympathies to those workers and their families most affected at this difficult time. 

‘While the plant is very productive, unfortunately the Covid-19 crisis has posed major difficulties for the automotive industry and the ills afflicting industry world-wide are impacting the plant here, too.

‘We will both continue to work with BMW Cowley to do what we can to ensure the future of the plant and to protect local jobs.’

The Cowley factory dates back over a century, with cars being built at the site since 1913.

BMW took control of Plant Oxford in 2001 when it bought the rights to the Mini brand and has produced all three generations of the new Mini there in the last 19 years.

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