BMW has confirmed it is cutting around 400 out of 950 agency staff at its Oxford Mini plant in the UK, with the COVID-19 pandemic substantially impacting demand.

The move will see Oxford moving from a three-shift pattern to a two-shift one by mid-October (operating five days a week as now), affecting around 400 out of the 950 agency personnel on-site, who are employed by Gi Group.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a substantial impact on customer demand and, like other automotive manufacturers, our volume forecasts for 2020 have had to change accordingly," said Mini Plant Oxford Human Resources director, Bob Shankly in a statement sent to just-auto.

"We have, therefore, made the difficult decision to adjust our shift patterns at Mini Plant Oxford from October. This will give us the flexibility we need to adapt our production in the short to medium term, according to developments in global markets.

"Our decision has been made after close discussion with trade union representatives and we are aware our plans will have an impact on people during an uncertain and worrying time. We have sought to protect as many jobs as we can, while also taking the necessary steps to ensure the stability of our business in light of this current period of volatile and unpredictable market conditions."

The automaker added it had agreed criteria with the Gi Group about which staff will be kept on, with individuals informed in September.

Additionally, what the company is looking to what it refers to as a 'small reduction' in core employee headcount at Plant Oxford, with voluntary redundancy and early retirement options under consideration. The process is subject to consultation with British labour body, Unite.

The manufacturer has around 4,000 people (BMW & agency production workers) on-site at Oxford. Last year it produced 222,340 Minis.

The shift reductions mean the plant will go from completing about 1,000 cars per day to about 800-900.

A further 100 jobs will be lost from BMW's Hams Hall engine plant in Birmingham, where 1,200 people are currently employed. Some 20 jobs will go from a steel pressing factory in Swindon – which employs around 600.