Japanese automakers announce big cuts

Toyota Motor Corp. said it will make further production cuts in North America, including at its Canadian plants, while Honda Motor Co. announced another round of job cuts yesterday in Japan and work stoppages in Britain.

Although Toyota said the slowdown won't affect any of its 5,200 production employees in Canada, Honda is cutting 3,100 jobs in Japan, slashing to zero the number of temporary workers at its plants by the end of April.

"Production cuts can barely keep up with sales drops and so automakers are in a near panic trying to adjust," said Yasuaki Iwamoto, auto analyst with Okasan Securities Co. in Tokyo.

Honda also announced that it will halt production at its factory in Swindon, England, for another two months, doubling its planned shutdown period, but it said it had no plans for redundancies among the 4,200-strong workforce. Toyota said its slowdown, made in response to slumping sales and high inventories, will affect its facilities over the next few months and will vary by assembly line and model.

"In addition to slowing production we are redoubling efforts to cut costs at each of our facilities," Jim Wiseman, vice-president of external affairs for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, said in a statement.

"Further actions and sacrifices may be necessary, but we will continue to do everything possible to assure the viability of our plants and protect the long-term employment security of our team members."

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