Towards the end of 2008 the dramatic decline in customer demand affecting all car makers led Sunderland Plant to implement measures to adjust volume in line with the market. These included reductions in line speed, operating an existing volume flexibility arrangement with staff, and implementing non-production training days.
The 2009 outlook for the car market remains extremely challenging, but Nissan is committed to taking the right action now to safeguard the plant's long term sustainability.
Therefore, the following measures will be implemented:
* To ensure Sunderland Plant does not over-supply a weakening market, one shift from both production lines will be trimmed during the FY 08 Quarter 4 period (January – March 2009). This will result in 'Line 1' operating on two shifts, and 'Line 2' operating on one shift during this period.
* From April 2009 onwards the plant will reinstate a shift on 'Line 2' ('Line 1' will remain on two shifts).
* As a result of this new working pattern, and to match forecast volume requirements throughout 2009, Nissan has notified the Local Works Council and the 'Unite' union of its intention to reduce overall production headcount by around 1,200. This figure includes 400 staff on temporary contracts, and it is intended these will not be renewed beyond January. The statutory consultation period will determine how best to adjust permanent headcount, but it is hoped that this can be managed on a voluntary basis.
Sunderland remains the UK's largest car exporter and producer, and enjoyed a second successive record production year in 2008 – topping the 2007 calendar year by more than 32,000 units.
The plant's sixth new model since 2003 – an innovative compact vehicle – will be launched in the middle of 2010.
Nissan Senior Vice President for Manufacturing, Europe, Trevor Mann, commented: "Like all manufacturers, Sunderland Plant is currently operating in extraordinary circumstances not of our making. It is essential we take the right action now to ensure we are in a strong and viable position once business conditions return to normal.
"Unavoidably, this means we have had to make some very tough decisions in recent weeks. However by doing so, we are helping to safeguard our long term future which I believe is extremely positive.
"We will begin preparations to launch another new model in 2010, which will be our sixth in seven years. This level of new model introduction is unparalleled in plants across Europe and demonstrates the confidence Nissan's top management has in the Sunderland workforce.
"The long term future of the plant must remain our over-riding priority. However, as always, Nissan will continue to make every effort to minimize the impact on its employees and their families."