Japanese car giant Nissan is to cut 1 200 jobs in Britain due to a sales slump caused by the global economic slowdown, it said on Thursday.
The jobs will go at the firm's plant in Sunderland, northeast England, which has around 5 000 workers and is one of the biggest employers in the region.
"Like all manufacturers, the Sunderland plant is currently operating in extraordinary circumstances not of our making," said Trevor Mann, Nissan's senior vice president for manufacturing, Europe.
"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."
Nissan said the outlook for the car market this year remained "extremely challenging," adding that it was committed to taking the right action now to safeguard the plant's long-term sustainability.
"The long-term future of the plant must remain our over-riding priority," Mann said.
Work at the production line only resumed on Monday after an extended Christmas shutdown in response to the slowdown in car sales.
Production had been halted on December 18, five days earlier than expected, after a surprise shutdown the previous week.
Nissan said there had been a "dramatic decline" in customer demand towards the end of 2008 which had affected all car makers.
New car sales in Britain alone dropped 11 percent in 2008, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) on Wednesday.
* Several Nissan products sold in South Africa are sourced from the Sunderland plant, including the Qashqai and Micra.