BMW announced today that 850 workers are to be laid off at its Mini car plant.
The carmaker said the job losses at its factory in Cowley, near Oxford, would affect agency workers on the weekend shift.
The cuts will come into force from March 2 when the plant begins operating five days per week, instead of the current seven.
The German-owned group said staff who currently worked weekend shifts will be redeployed to one of the weekday shifts.
A statement said: “While Mini has been weathering the economic downturn, it is not immune from the challenges of the current situation.
“Against this backdrop the company felt that a review of its shift patterns was necessary. This decision has not been taken lightly. The plant’s union representatives have, of course, been involved in the discussions.”
Talks between the BMW firm and unions have been held for weeks over changing the current work pattern of three shifts a day for seven days a week.
The Cowley factory will not produce cars this week in response to the dip in motor sales caused by the recession.
Almost a third of the Cowley workforce are agency staff and some complained today that they would not receive any redundancy pay.
The announcement is more grim news to the car industry which has laid off thousands of workers in recent weeks.
The Mini celebrates its 50th anniversary in August of this year.
Derek Simpson, joint leader of Unite, said the job losses showed how deeply the recession was now affecting the motor industry, given that BMW was a “hugely profitable” firm and Cowley was an efficient factory.
He said: “There is a huge onus on the Government to take drastic action to support the motor industry and to encourage people to buy cars.
“The banks will also have to start making credit available again or this is going to lead to disaster.”