A TOTAL of 300 permanent Honda workers will be out of work before the end of the month after the car manufacturer announced a total of 99 compulsory redundancies.

The news comes after the Japanese firm announced in March poor sales in Europe had led them the scale back production at their South Marston plant from two lines to one.

The decision was made to release 340 permanent and 160 temporary production associates but the figure of permanent workers arrived at yesterday is 40 short of the original estimate.

A total of 201 applied for voluntary redundancy and lengthy discussions between Honda and Unite ensued over the compulsory redundancy process.

The announcement yesterday sparked frustration from the union, which had hoped to see a maximum of 83 staff made redundant.

Honda’s decision to let permanent staff go over agency workers was also heavily condemned by Unite.

“It’s a bit higher than what Honda were saying last week,” said Jim D’Avila, Unite’s regional co-ordinating officer in Swindon.

“We have been pressing the company to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies over the last three months. “We still maintain there should not have been any redundancies among Honda associates and that the company should have created vacancies from contract workers.

“We have now this ludicrous position where Honda are sacking permanent employees and keeping agency workers.”

He added that the move would give remaining employees in Swindon little faith in management.

“Refusing to give priority to their own staff will inevitably cause great concern among the remaining staff and they will fear for the long-term security of their positions.”

HUM had previously explained that keeping a level of temporary labour was necessary to “facilitate with fluctuating production requirements”.

In March, Honda announced plans to axe 500 jobs out of its 3,000-strong workforce and a TaskForce had been set up to help those who were leaving the firm find other employment.

The deadline for applications to leave the business voluntarily, using HUM’s Associate Release Programme, closed on April 22, later extended to last Friday.

A HUM spokesman said: “Honda can confirm that following the ongoing meetings between HUM and the Unite Consultative Committee, and following the closure of the voluntary redundancy programme on Friday, May 9, the total number of compulsory redundancies will be 99.

“A formal compulsory redundancy process commences this week. “The last contractual day for all employees leaving the company will be May 23 2014.”

A spokesman confirmed staff will be presented with an enhanced redundancy package. If they refuse to sign it, they will automatically default to a statutory package.

It is not the first time Honda have made large cuts to its workforce – just under a year ago 800 job losses were announced at the Swindon plant, of which 554 took the voluntary redundancy package on offer.