LONDON -- Honda (IW 1000/30) announced on Friday it intended to cut 800 jobs this year at its Swindon plant in Britain.

"Honda Motor Europe has today announced changes to its UK car manufacturing operation to ensure the long term stability of its future business," the group said.

"Sustained conditions of low demand in European markets make it necessary to re-align Honda's business structure. As such, Honda... will enter into formal consultation with its associates to consider these changes and the proposal that it will reduce the workforce by 800 associates by spring 2013."

Ken Keir, executive vice president at Honda Motor Europe, added that current "conditions of sustained low industry demand require us to take difficult decisions."

The Swindon plant in southwest England currently employs about 3,500 staff, including 500 recruited only last year, in part to work on a new diesel engine line.

Britain's biggest union Unite called Honda's decision "a hammer blow to UK manufacturing and the local economy."

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the government would be working "to minimize the impact of the job losses."

He added: "Times are tough in the European market but the automotive industry remains a major success story for the UK. Over the last two years global manufacturers including Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and BMW have invested £6 billion in the UK, safeguarding and creating new jobs."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013