One of the longest breaks in production in Britain's industrial history has begun, with thousands of workers having left Honda's UK factory for a four-month sabbatical.
A dramatic slump in sales has seen production at the plant in Swindon, Wiltshire, shut down until June 1.
The first two months will see the 4,200 workers receive their full basic pay, but this will reduce to 60% for the rest of the production shutdown.
Honda's new Jazz model is due to go into production in the summer, and senior directors have stressed the firm's commitment to retaining its Swindon workforce until then.
Dave Hodgetts, senior director of planning and business administration at Honda UK, said remaining staff would work on developing the new car, which should go into production when the factory staff return in June.
He added that the company was doing all it could to protect jobs. "We will be trying to protect their jobs - that's our priority for the whole period," he said.
"No one could forecast the impact of the recession on the industry. We've had to take this severe action."
Production came to a halt on the day Honda announced a 90% dive in third-quarter profits to £158 million and cut full-year forecasts in half.
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