Unions have expressed dismay at plans to cut 400 jobs at digger manufacturer JCB, warning that a downturn in world markets, including China, could lead to more losses.
Market conditions in the construction equipment sector have worsened in recent weeks, leading to the announcement.
Gordon Richardson of the GMB union said: "These staff job losses are the first ripple from the downturn in world markets, including China, impacting on the UK economy.
"This huge wave of uncertainty is likely to lead to further job losses in the sectors that trade with the rest of the world.
"GMB will do everything we can to avoid compulsory redundancies and to mitigate the impact on the workforce."
JCB said it had started a consultation process with staff over proposed redundancies following a "rapid deterioration" in world construction equipment markets.
A statement said: "The slowdown in recent weeks has been marked, particularly in the emerging markets, resulting in a sharp fall in machine orders.
"As a result, JCB has today briefed employees that up to 400 staff positions are now at risk in the UK, although it will attempt to minimise the impact by considering voluntary redundancies."
Chief executive Graeme Macdonald said: "Market conditions in the construction equipment sector have been difficult for some time, but they have worsened quite rapidly in recent weeks.
"The situation is not about to improve, certainly not in the short term, so we now need to take difficult but decisive actions to align overheads to lower sales forecasts. Regrettably, this will result in up to 400 staff positions becoming redundant across our UK businesses."
JCB said that in the first six months of the year, the market in Russia has dropped by 70%, Brazil by 36% and China by 47%.
Parts of Europe are also said to be struggling, with France down by 26%.