Fiat plans to axe 1,500 jobs at its Tychy plant in Poland and reduce production to under 300,000 cars in 2013.

The planned layoffs will affect almost a third of 4,900 current workers, Polish News Bulletin reported.

This year's output will be 350,000 cars.

Trade unions were said to be shocked at the scale of redundancies.

The redundancies will also affect Fiat subsidiaries the factory which makes models including the Fiat 500 and Ford Ka (which share their platform).

Poland's economy minister Janusz Piechocinski planned to discuss the layoffs with Fiat Auto Poland.

The plant built its 10 millionth vehicle last October.

Falling sales in Europe, especially in Fiat's home market Italy, have led to non-production weeks in recent months.

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