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JLR Lays Off 500 Workers At UK's Halewood Plant As It Cuts One Shift

Jaguar Land Rover today announced it is cutting approximately 500 jobs at its Halewood plant in the UK – roughly 10 percent of the workforce.

The automaker justified the decision with the need to improve efficiency by changing shift patterns. “This is about efficiency, not loss of volume. Through its ongoing transformation program, Jaguar Land Rover is taking action to optimize performance, enable sustainable growth and safeguard the long-term success of our business,” the company said in a statement seen by BBC News.

JLR added that it is moving Halewood production from three to “two-plus” shifts starting in April. Currently, the plant works early, late and night shifts but those will be reduced to early and late shifts.

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“This will deliver significant operating efficiencies at the plant, while enabling us to meet the growing customer demand for our new Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport,” the automaker added. The affected employees are both permanent workers and agency staff, said the ‘Unite’ union, which described the move as a “fresh blow to the car industry.”

The Tata-owned carmaker employs 4,500 people at the plant, which builds the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport, two of the company’s global best-sellers. Evoque sales rose 10 percent to 81,688 last year while Discovery Sport sales fell 13 percent to 83,574 units. Despite the drop in demand, the latter remains JLR’s best-selling model. Both compact SUVs are also made in China for the local market.

Halewood, located near Liverpool, is one of JLR’s three vehicle assembly plants in Britain, in addition to the main production facility in Solihull and the Jaguar-focused Castle Bromwich factory. In late 2018, JLR announced plans to cut 4,500 jobs worldwide as part of a £2.5 billion ($3.28 billion) plan to reverse losses.