Another 1,350 jobs were cut or threatened with the axe yesterday as a leading bank, a luxury car firm and a car accessory retailer shed labour in response to the economic downturn.
Union officials expressed anger and dismay that Aston Martin, HSBC and Halfords were announcing job cuts so close to Christmas.
Aston Martin said it was planning to axe up to 600 full-time and temporary jobs because of the downturn in the world economy, hitting the company’s factory at Gaydon in Warwickshire.
The announcement, following a dip in sales, was described by the Unite union as “devastating news” for workers.
HSBC said it will reduce its UK workforce by around 500 following a review of the business and “current economic conditions.”
Managing director Paul Thurston said: “As you would expect of any organisation, we continually review our business to ensure it operates efficiently.
“The environment in which we operate changes constantly and HSBC has a duty to our customers, shareholders and staff to ensure that our organisation reflects and reacts to these changes. “We deeply regret taking this step, but we consider it essential to ensure our business is operating as efficiently as possible and that we are best placed to deal with the economic downturn and maintain our levels of customer service.”
HSBC said no retail customer-facing staff in branches or call centres would be affected. The biggest impact is expected at the London head office, Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield and Chester.
Unite’s joint leader Derek Simpson said: “Unite is appalled that this news has been delivered so close to Christmas.
“As far as we can see, HSBC is simply using the economic downturn as an excuse to make job losses.”
Unite said the bank had reported an increase in half-yearly profits recently and continued to do “very well”.
Aston Martin said it had started consulting with trade unions on a range of cutbacks to reflect the downturn in the world economy and the corresponding fall in car sales.
A statement said: “It is hoped to do this by minimising the impact on employees as far as possible, but the possibility of up to 300 permanent and a similar number of temporary job losses cannot be ruled out.”
Chief executive Dr Ulrich Bez said: “Like other premium car brands, Aston Martin has been forced to take action to respond to the unprecedented downturn in the global economy. These are regrettable but necessary measures in the extraordinary market conditions we all now face.
“Overall, we remain confident that the Aston Martin brand is the strongest it has ever been — with dedicated design, engineering and manufacturing facilities and an award-winning product range, we remain well positioned for the upturn in the economy.”
Unite’s national officer Dave Osborne said: “In the current climate, this is not surprising but we are extremely disappointed that Aston Martin have announced 600 job cuts.
Aston Martin sold 110 cars in the UK in October compared with 164 in the same month last year. Sales last year were 7,300 but are expected to be 6,500 this year.
Car accessory retailer Halfords announced plans to shed around 250 jobs.
Halfords sells more than 10,000 different product lines, ranging from car parts to camping goods, said the decision followed a review of its operations carried out in recent weeks.